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, June 30, 2014

Memoir Monday and My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

From the Publisher… Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back. Over the course of the year, she finds her own voice by acting as Salinger’s, on her own dangerous and liberating terms. 

Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, My Salinger Year is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves. 

As a reader, I am fascinated with recluse authors such as J.D. Salinger and this book sounds so interesting. How would it be to have contact with J.D. Salinger? And this book seems to offer a bit of the behind the scenes world of the literary agent, so how can you go wrong? I would love to see how Joanna Rakoff builds a relationship with J.D. Salinger and how she navigates the beginning of her career. On my TBR list!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Sunday Salon and Can you Overfeed Your eReader?

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that one day of the week we give ourselves permission to sit back, relax and talk books virtually with all of our friends! It's been a beautiful week here in Connecticut, with the temperatures rising and the sun showing its lovely face all week long! It's put me in quite a reading mood!

My question today is, can you overfeed your eReader? One of the motivations of getting an eReader, for me, was to free up some space in the ever crowded house. My new husband realized quite soon after we were married that books were part of the decor… in EVERY room. But just like the piles of books we have on the table (in the corner, on the shelves, next to the bed…) we sure can fit a lot of eBooks in our readers! Though I still like reading physical books, especially when I am reviewing for a publisher, eBooks can be easier to store and carry around. What do you think?

Recently I've loaded my eReader with some great books and I thought I would share some of the eBooks I just couldn't resist feeding my eReader with! A thank you to the publishers for the courtesy eGalley's of these books too!

The Major's Daughter by J.P. Francis… WWII, a "forbidden" love story, secrets & lies. The writing is so good and the premise is just compelling. This has book club favorite written all over it! In a few words by the publisher: Like Snow Falling on Cedars, a stirring tale of wartime love. 

April, 1944. The quiet rural village of Stark, New Hampshire is irrevocably changed by the arrival of 150 German prisoners of war. And one family, unexpectedly divided, must choose between love and country. Camp Stark is under the command of Major John Brennan, whose beautiful daughter, Collie, will serve as translator. Educated at Smith and devoted to her widowed father, Collie is immediately drawn to Private August Wahrlich, a peaceful poet jaded by war. As international conflict looms on the home front, their passion blinds them to the inevitable dangers ahead. Inspired by the little-known existence of a real World War II POW camp.

The Major’s Daughter is a fresh take on the timeless theme of forbidden love. Published by Plume ( An imprint of Penguin), it's coming July 29th to your local bookstore!

Sweet As Cane, Salty As Tears by Ken Wheaton… Ken Wheaton is a fun writer. He writes great stories that will make you smile because he has a great sense of humor. His first book I read for a book club, I had never heard of him and I was weary that I would even like it ( The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival), but I LOVED it! It was a great story, light and fun. This newest book offers the same and I can't wait to start reading! In a few words, the publisher writes: A freak accident forces a New Yorker to return to Louisiana and confront her Cajun past. The freak accident is a Rhinoceros that happens to escape his zoo and runs rampant in Cajun countryside. The rest of the story is about family and coming home to a place you never thought you'd set foot in again. This has fun written all over it! Published by Open Road Media, it's coming to a bookstore near you on July 1st!

Ruth's Journey by Donald McCaig… If you just love Gone With the Wind, this book should call your name like it called mine. I just love the setting and the story is that of the Mammy from Gone with The Wind. Her name was Ruth, she hails from Saint Domingue, and her life was rich with love and family prior to being the caretaker at Tara. Here's part of the description from the publisher:

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

How can you resist after reading that!? The setting of this book is the South from the 1820's until the Civil War. AND, this book is actually authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, which should say something right there. The writing I've sampled is wonderful! It reminds me of the kind of book to start reading on a lazy day, sitting on the porch with a glass of fresh sweet tea! Published by Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster, this will be hitting the shelves Oct. 14, 2014! Save the date!

Some other great eGalleys that fed my eReader this week are, The Good Girl by Mary Kyrychenko (June 25), The City by Dean Koontz (July 31), The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber (Oct. 2014), All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (Aug. 28), and Take Me Home by Dorothy Garlock (June 24). All of these eGalleys are hints of great reads coming our way to a bookstore this summer (Except for Michael Faber's book, coming out in Oct.)

Weekly Recap… 
Memoir Monday showcased So Long, Marianne by Kari Hesthamar. The love story of Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen.

Tuesday, I reviewed A Sudden Light by Garth Stein! Ghost story, great story, coming-of-age story, dysfunctional, quirky great characters, and as always great storytelling from Garth!

Saturday, I reviewed a absolutely wonderful graphic novel, This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. Coming-of-age, summer BFF's, great story, beautiful artwork. If you enjoy graphic novels, you HAVE to read this one, and if you're new to the genre, this is a great intro for us girls!

What are you feeding your eReader with lately?! What new books from your favorite authors can you recommend!? What graphic novels are you reading!? Share your great reads here, I'd love to hear about them!

Next week, Memoir Monday will highlight a memoir about a reclusive author and the relationship that would become a surprise. Come back to discover what memoir that is!

Happy reading… Suzanne

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Graphically speaking… This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, a Review

"Awago beach is this place… my family goes every summer… Ever since… like… forever."

And if you decide to breath in the summer air there too, with Rose and Windy, you'll experience a summer you won't soon forget…

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, is wonderful. It's cool breezes off the water, cottages by the beach and summer friends. It's the summer where Windy and Rose start to notice boys, their boobs, and how growing up isn't always easy…

Rose and Windy are summer friends. Every summer their families vacation at Awago beach, and they've been BFF's each summer since Rose was 5 years old. Windy is a year and a half younger, but close enough for Rose to enjoy what summer is all about with Windy.  This One Summer is a kind of coming-of-age story, where you can tell by the dialogue that the girls are starting to grow up, especially Rose. The girls notice things… they notice the Dude at the convenience store, they notice the way the older girls act (especially towards the boys), and they start to deal with some serious issues, one of which is Rose's parents constant fighting. But it's not all horror movies at night (Rose & Windy become obsessed with them), and swimming at the beach, Rose starts to react to the tensions around her, which also causes some momentary tension between her and Windy, but it all works out in the end. It's a perfect summer read, and the artwork is beautiful! Yes, this is a graphic novel! The drawings have a beautiful soft almost charcoal quality and the muted colors of black, white, grays, and almost purples make the scenes dreamy.

This story reminded me of those summers I spent with my girlfriends as a young girl. My summer BFF's. Where you had not a care in the world, you could share your most silliest secrets and every day was a new adventure. Want to recapture a bit of that? Read this book! Never read a graphic novel before? This would be a great first read! I loved this book! Rose and Windy are wonderful characters that you'll be happy you spent a bit of summer with! Memorable! And one of my favorite reads this year!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein… A Review

From a master storyteller comes another book that will have you reading late into the night and loving it! What else would you expect from a book written by Garth Stein?! Nothing less, especially if you enjoyed The Art of Racing in The Rain...

Oh how I love a good ghost story and A Sudden Light definitely makes the grade! Mix in a family curse, quirky characters, a spooky house, a beautiful setting, and a love story that goes beyond the grave and you have the beginning of the page turner this is. But what really makes this so good is the wonderful writing! Garth Stein sweeps the reader into the story as our young 14 year old protagonist recounts the summer he spent at his grandfather's house in the woods, where he discovers that the universe is connected in many ways and that the spirits of our ancestors live on in us.

Trevor Riddel is 14, his parents are on the verge of divorce, due mostly to Trevor's Dad losing his job and the family home, and life as Trevor knows it, is about to change forever. As part of a "trial" separation, Trevor's Mother goes back home to England to her family and Trevor is whisked away with  his Dad to his family, in a remote woodsy retreat in the woods. There Trevor meets for the first time his Aunt Serena, who is a bona fide "hippy", and his ailing Grandfather, Samuel, who his Aunt and Father want to commit, so they can tear down the family house and sell the land that is worth millions. But could it be that simple? No…

The falling down mansion in the woods, is the legacy of Timber barren Elijah Riddel, whose fortunes were amassed at the sake of many people and of the natural world itself. As we learn of the history of the Riddel family and fortune, we are swept back in time, through the spirits of the house and in journal passages & dreams, to when Elijah Riddel's power and money knew no bounds to devastating the natural beauty of the land around him. Tragedy soon follows, which is a wake up call for  Elijah, who then begins desperately trying to make amends to redeem himself for his eternal soul and the souls of his descendants.

Strike a match if you dare and walk through the secret passages of A Sudden Light… You won't be able to stop yourself from moving forward… or turning those pages as fast as you can! I received this as an eGalley from Simon and Schuster and could not stop reading it! But you'll have to wait until Sept 30th, 2014 to devour it! Make sure you put in on your TBR list now! Thank you Simon and Schuster for the eGalley! I loved it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Memoir Monday and… So Long Marianne by Kari Hesthamar

"At 22, Marianne Ihlen travelled to the Greek island of Hydra with writer Axel Jensen. Axel wrote and Marianne kept house, until the day Axel abandoned her and their newborn son for another woman. One day while Marianne is shopping in a little grocery store, in walks a man who asks her to join him and some friends outside at their table. He introduces himself as Leonard Cohen, then a little-known writer.

Thus starts a love story that lasts through most of the 1960s and which takes them to Oslo, Montreal and New York and back to Hydra. Meanwhile, Cohen writes “So Long, Marianne,” one of the most beautiful love songs of all time. Peppered with previously unpublished poems, letters, and photographs, So Long, Marianne is an intimate, honest account of Marianne’s journey and a portrait of the international artists’ colony on Hydra in the 1960s."

I'm not a fan of Leonard Cohen, but I am a fan of young love, and this story just struck me. When I read this quote from a telegram sent from Leonard to Marianne shortly after they met, I knew I had to read the book…
                    “Have house. All I need is my woman and her son. Love Leonard.”

Is that just too romantic?! Now, I've read some reviews that say it's not the best written story, and that you need to be a Leonard Cohen fan to get through it, but I'm entering the game from a different perspective, so maybe it will be all different for me. In any case, So Long Marianne by Kari Hesthamar is on my TBR list!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Get Ready… Summer's Gonna Sizzle

Welcome to the The Sunday Salon and Summer! Yes, finally the weather matches the calendar and we can declare longer days with lazy nights, margarita's by the water, and SUMMER READING!

Summer is going to sizzle too! There is plenty summer reading to be had by our favorite authors! (And not to wish summer away, but there are some great books coming out this fall too!) What's your pleasure? Romance, thrillers, murder?  Let's take a peek at what you should be adding to your summer TBR list!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart… from the publisher:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I'm intrigued! I love the smart description from the publisher too! Last time I found a cryptic book description like that was on Little Bee by Chris Cleave and that book was fantastic.  This book has gotten amazing reviews so far! It is suppose to be a YA novel , but from what I gather it's not exactly being sold as YA, because I guess that would "pigeon hole" it in a particular genre, and the story should be enjoyed by adults as well. It is on my TBR list! Sounds great and the small bit of a sample I read I enjoyed. Published by Delacorte Press (Random House) is was published in May of this year!

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica… "I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.  Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. 

Can you say thriller?! Yes, this a suspense thriller from first time writer, Mary Kubica. The Good Girl has gotten a lot of great pre-release press, and sounds like it will make a perfect summer read! But this one we'll have to wait for until July 29, 2014, when Harlequin MIRA will publish it!

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King… In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands. In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy. Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Is Stephen King back?! I had kind of given up on him, until The Dome. I just didn't get that spark when I read any of his newer books. He had retired, then he came back with a new book, what is going on? Well, Mr. Mercedes sounds like old Stephen King to me. The sample I read I liked, but this is summer and let's have fun reading Stephen King without being wary. Does it have to be his best? Does it have to make me want to leave the lights on when I'm reading (Like The Shining did)? No, so I'm willing to give this a try for the fun of it. Lot's of people have given it great reviews. Published by Scribner (Simon & Schuster) it is available now!

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon… 1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces. The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is  searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.

How can I talk about Summer Sizzler's without mentioning the newest book in the time traveling romance Outlander Series!?! After 7 books, Outlander fans still want more, and Diana Gabaldon has been gracious enough to give us more! If you are not familiar with the Outlander Series, it is the amazing time traveling romance between 20th century Claire and 18th century Scottish Highlander Jamie. It is HOT and at the writing is superb. The series starts with Outlander, and if you haven't read it, pick it up NOW. It's a big one, though, at almost 900 pages. Published by Delacorte Press (Random House) it is available now from your favorite book seller!

Do you have any plans for reading this summer? What's on your TBR list? I've had quite a few books on my plate so far, including a graphic novel This One Summer by  Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, that I loved and will be reviewing by the end of the week, and Garth Stein's newest offering called A Sudden Light, which was fabulous! You'll see the review for that this week too! Stop by the next few "Memoir Mondays" to find some great new memoirs you are going to want to read! And in the meantime…

Happy Reading… Suzanne

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
                                                                                     Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Summer Salon and Guilty Pleasures

It's Sunday! Welcome to The Sunday Salon! We've been on vacation for a while (if you can rehab for my bum knee a vacation) and look what happened while I was away.... SUMMER! Well, not quite summer, but in Connecticut the weather is warm & sunny now, and the start of the perfect summer season! What do you start thinking about when the seasons change? When we leave the cold behind for Spring, I throw the windows open and let the cool breeze fill the house. I start thinking about outside instead of inside. AND I think about lazy days filled with reading! Summer is the perfect place for guilty pleasures and ice cream cones! What are your guilty pleasures? One of mine is relaxing in the sun with a "different" kind of book to read. Something lighter, funnier, maybe even silly. That's not to say I'm not reading any of my "serious" books, just that I feel freer in what I choose... Like wearing flip-flops instead of black pumps to work. As I think about what some of those books were over many years, here are a few...

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding... The is the laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between the joys of Singleton fun, and the fear of dying alone and being found three weeks later half eaten by an Alsatian; tortured by Smug Married friends asking, "How's your love life?" with lascivious, yet patronizing leers, Bridget resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult and learn to program the VCR. With a blend of flighty charm, existential gloom, and endearing self-deprecation.

While vacationing in Cape Cod one year, I saw a woman intensely reading something while parked on a bench in the middle of a touristy shopping area. I stopped to ask what she was reading, and it was Bridget Jones Diary. She told me I had to read it! It was one of the funniest books she'd read in a long time. I bought myself a copy and absolutely loved it! It was funny, insightful and well written. It's a chick book before the onslaught of what we talk about at Chick Lit. If you haven't read it, if you're a girl, indulge in this "summer read", it is worth it.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume... In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s world changes forever when Caitlin Somers chooses her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomes Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.” Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin begs Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart.

I loved this book as an adult. It just brought back memories of summers spent with my girlfriends, doing what girls do... going to beaches, shopping for clothes, singing along with the radio at the top of our voices, talking about boys. Oh and I guess there are a few more things we did that we won't mention here. But the friendship of Vix and Caitlin reminds me of those summers past and Summer Sisters was a fantastic summer read. Judy Blume, of course, is a wonderful writer as well, which makes it so much better.

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy... An incandescent novel of love, obsession, and the secrets that take root in the human heart. Lough Glass is at the heart and soul of the namesake town clinging to its shore. They say that if you go out on St. Agnes' Eve and look into the lake at sunset you can see your future. But beneath its serene surface, the lake harbors secrets as dark and unfathomable as the beautiful woman who night after night walks beside its waters. Lough Glass is home to Kit McMahon, in a way it will never be to her lovely mother, Helen, who does not fit in with the ways of the people of Lough Glass, and who found an unlikely mate in the genial pharmacist Martin McMahon. Kit adores her mother, but can't escape the picture of her, alone at the kitchen table, tears streaming down her face... or walking alone by the glass lake. Then one terrible night Martin's boat is found drifting upside down in the lake. The night Helen is lost. The night Kit discovers a letter on Martin's pillow and burns it, unopened, in the grate. The night everything changes forever.

A girlfriend handed me this book one day. I had never read romance, but she insisted I would enjoy it. It was fat with almost 800 pages and a romance. Ugh. That book sat on my shelf for months. MONTHS! And then I decided I should read it out of a moral obligation. I opened it and started to turn the pages... and then turn more... Until finally I couldn't stop! It was really good! The writing just dragged me in kicking and screaming and then I was hooked. Maeve Binchy knows how to write a doomed love story and this is one of my all time favorite romances! READ THIS!

So, what are your guilty pleasure reads for the summer? Do you have guilty pleasure reads? Or does your reading not change with the seasons? I'd love to hear your thoughts on summer reading!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ladies, Get Your Stola's... I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith, A Review

Why is it that when I think of "Historical Fiction", I think England and the "Middle Ages", Scotland during the 18th century (and those hot Highlanders like Jamie) or WWII? The reason is I never read Phyllis T. Smith before! Can this really be her debut novel?!

Ladies, get your stola's ready for a great read! I Am Livia starts just after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Livia Drusilla is a mere fourteen years old, but has a keen mind and an independent nature. History has written her off as a scheming power-hungry woman, concerned with only advancing her own agenda, but Phyllis Smith tempers that with Livia's perspective on things. Why does history seem to chastise women who have a mind of their own? Livia certainly had a mind of her own, but she was also a young girl, thrown into a life not of her choosing and ultimately finding the love & passion that would define her life. Oh, and what a life Livia had!

Married at fifteen, a mother of one son and pregnant with another, Livia meets and falls passionately in love with the most powerful man in Rome - Octavianus, Julius Caesar's heir. He's a mere boy himself, but as Julius Caesar's chosen heir, his destiny is set. Their 52 year love story with Rome as their backdrop is intense and wonderful, and Livia's part in bringing Rome to greatness is fascinating.

I was so engrossed in this book, I literally could not put it down. I cried at parts (my husband thought something was really wrong), and my heart was warmed by others. Phyllis Smith has created amazing flesh and blood characters that allowed me to step inside their world and live there for a while. But as good as the love story was, and we're not talking blatant sex either, Phyllis has made the time period come alive. This book is rich and full bodied like a good red wine... READ THIS!

P.S. Marc Anthony and Cleopatra make a showing, but their story is nothing compared to Livia and Octavianus!

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