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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Source: Audible/Gift from Friend
Audiobook, 13+ hours;
Hardcover, 448 pgs.
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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes is the second in a series of books about Joe Goldberg, a serial killer who is no stranger to love, obsession, and death.  If you haven’t read You, you need to because without reading it, you miss way too much.  I read this in hardcover and listened to the audio — the narrator of the audio, Santino Fontana, owns the role of Joe Goldberg and that of Forty.

***Spoilers for previous book***

Goldberg loves books and considers himself a writer, and after killing his latest girlfriend, he finds himself in love with a new girl who loves books and is eager to play games, like he is.  However, when Amy, who met him through a fake credit card, screws him over, Joe has little choice but to leave his bookstore managerial post in New York to head out to California to take care of her.  Along the way he gets sucked into the California dream of fame and fortune and finds himself opening social media accounts, something he would never have done in New York.

He meets Love and falls in love, but she has a twin named Forty who sucks the life out of everything with his addictions and his tantrums. Then, there is Milo, the third twin. At the same time he’s living the high life, he sees Amy and tries to catch her and fails and gets tangled up with a star-struck actress wannabe. His tangled web nearly unravels several times, as the story gets more twisted up and the body count rises. Readers will want to check reality at the door, you just have to go along for the ride.

Written and Directed by Joe Goldberg
Love is laughing and clapping and I hug Forty and shake his hand and thank him but he tells me not to thank him. ‘This was all you, Old Sport!'”

Joe is a character you love to hate.  He is creepy, calculating, and scary, but he’s also logical and rational and makes you want to believe he’s doing the right thing and helping the larger world. Kepnes’ story is twisted and crazy, but there is some great humor in these encounters, particularly when Joe corners police officer Robin Fincher who has his own Rolodex of celebrity encounters. Joe is in a city where everyone is obsessive.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes makes readers wonder just how many obsessive and self-obsessed people are in the world and how on Earth people like Joe don’t kill more of them for us. Joe has evolved — somewhat — in this book, but don’t expect him to become a Boy Scout or a hero.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Caroline Kepnes is the author of You and Hidden Bodies. She splits her time between Los Angeles, California and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Find her on Facebook.

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose & Giveaway

Source: France Book Tours
Hardcover, 320 pgs.
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M.J. Rose is an author who can transport you into any time and place, weaving in the occult and the mysterious along with history. It is utterly believable. Opaline Duplessi is one of the descendants of La Lune, a famous witch, and whose mother is featured in The Witch of Painted Sorrows, which I loved. In The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose, Opaline has fled her parents and returned to the former home of La Lune — Paris. Rather than live with her great-grandmother, who also prefers to avoid the occult, she lives beneath the jewelry shop where she works for a family of Russian emigres, the Orloffs, who long for tsarist Russia to return from the hands of the Bolsheviks.

Her work with stones in the shop leads her to use her gifts from La Lune to help the mothers, daughters, and wives left behind by the deceased soldiers of WWI. These soldiers have fallen while protecting Paris and others from the Germans, many lying in the trenches alone. Through her gifts, the crushed stones, and other engravings, Opaline is able to reach through the ether and provide these women with a bit of solace in their despair. Motivated by her own loss, and her inability to provide hope to a fallen soldier of her own, Opaline sees it as her duty to help these women with their grief.

Rose has created an entire mythology with the Daughters of La Lune, but readers can read these books individually, though they’d have a richer experience reading them together. Her characters are dynamic and strong-willed women who navigate the unknown and often dark mysteries of the worlds beyond reality. Rose packs her narrative with history and artistry in a way that will fully absorb readers from page one. The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose is captivating, feel yourself being drawn into the netherworld page by page, moment by moment, and uncover the mystery alongside Opaline.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

M.J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park — and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.  She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com.

She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Please visit her website, her blog: Museum of Mysteries.  Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more. Or send an email to TheFictionofMJRose-subscribe at yahoogroups dot com

To send M.J. a message and/or request a signed bookplate, send an email to mjroseauthor at gmail dot com

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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You by Caroline Kepnes

Source: Public Library
Hardcover, 422 pgs.
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You by Caroline Kepnes is creepy, obsessive, and twisted, and Joe Goldberg and Guinevere Beck are certifiable.  This thriller will pull you in and suck you dry, as Beck walks into a bookstore and flirts with the wrong man.  Kepnes has created two downright sinister characters who are perfect for each other and when circumstance brings them together, everyone around them better watch out.  Check your morals at the door with this one; these two are not redeemable, but you can’t help but watch how everything unfolds between them and how it impacts those around them.  Truly one of the unsettling novels out there.  Kepnes’ prose easily draws in the reader, making them wonder who this obsessive man is and why he’s so drawn to this particular girl.

“‘This will sound crazy, but I’m saving it.  For my nursing home list.’
‘You mean bucket list.’
‘Oh, no, that’s totally different.  A nursing home list is a list of things you plan on reading and watching in a nursing home.  A bucket list is more like … visit Nigeria, jump out of an airplane.'” (pg. 8)

Through careful manipulation of social media and a few lucky breaks, this relationship begins to take a life of its own, and while both parties have their demons, it’s clear that they cannot keep away from one another.  Even though you know throughout what will happen in the end, readers will be up late and turning pages in this psychological thriller.  Joe sees himself as a protector, someone charged with saving Beck from predators, but those predators are not who you’d expect them to be.  Meanwhile, Beck loves new things, and this love of wanting and being wanted is something that drives her incessantly.

“‘There’s no such thing as a flying cage, Joseph,’ he said.  ‘The only thing crueler than a cage so small that a bird can’t fly is a cage so large that a bird thinks it can fly.  Only a monster would lock a bird in here and call himself an animal lover.'” (pg. 47)

Joe is her opposite in that he obsesses over old things and continuously covets old books and collects old and broken typewriters.  He’s waiting for social media to overheat and die, he prefers anonymity, but is it only because he feels unworthy or is it because it enables him to stalk and obsess more freely?  He hates pretentious people who live their lives for others and share everything with everyone, but he too is pretentious in that he’s a book snob.  Dan Brown is not a good enough author, and people should be reading Paula Fox, and they should never pretend to read books.

For those who do not like graphic violence or sex, you should stay away.  You by Caroline Kepnes is riveting and disturbing.  What does it mean to be you?  What is your true self and do you share that with everyone or only a special few?  And what if the real you is scary?  Do you share that self with anyone? Lock it up? Or simply let it out?

About the Author:

Caroline Kepnes is the author of You and Hidden Bodies. She splits her time between Los Angeles, California and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Find her on Facebook.

 

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

Source: France Book Tours
Hardcover, 384 pgs
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Sandrine Salome finds her world upended by her husband, Benjamin, and even as she flees to Paris from New York, she is haunted by her own ancestry in The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose.  Paris is the city of light and painting and art, and Sandrine has always loved art.  But her love of art is just one passion that drives her deeper and deeper into the mystical past of her courtesan ancestors, especially La Lune.  Arriving on her grandmother’s doorstep unexpectedly, we learn that she and her grandmother only met occasionally throughout the years after she left Paris with her parents at age 15.  Despite the distance, she is drawn to Paris as her home, and it is her sense of longing and desire for a new life that drives her closer to the edge of an abyss.

“I did not cause the madness, the deaths, or the rest of the tragedies any more than I painted the paintings.  I had help, her help.  Or perhaps I should say she forced her help on me.  And so this story — which began with me fleeing my home in order to escape my husband and might very well end tomorrow, in a duel, in the Bois de Boulogne at dawn — is as much hers as mine.  Or in fact more hers than mine.”  (page 1)

Her secretive grandmother may have unwittingly provided Sandrine and her father with the tools they needed to become blind to the magic around them and to willfully turn a blind eye to the dangers that stalk them.  But her warnings are stark and should not be ignored.  Rose is a gifted story-teller who infuses her historical fiction with ancient mystery, passion, and wonder.  Her characters love strongly and are often guided by things beyond their rational control, but at their hearts they believe they are doing right.  Sandrine is no different.  She has longed for a life free of constraint and to be immersed in art, and what she finds in Paris is more than she bargained for, but in many ways she’s afraid to give it up and to return to a lackluster life.

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose is a story of love, passion, and ambition, but at its heart, it is about the quest for immortality — even if it is just being remembered as a great architect or artist.  Skeptics will enter this world and try to interject rationality, much like Julien does, but they will soon find themselves swept up in a story like no other and forced to re-examine their own conceptions of the spirit world.  Is art a divine gift or is it a talent that can be nurtured and shaped into legend?  Rose delves into these questions and more in her deeply layered world of artistry and passion.

About the Author:

New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice … books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it. Please visit her website, her blog: Museum of Mysteries; Subscribe to her mailing list; and Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Here is the Giveaway Entry-Form

There will be 5 winners; Open internationally; $20 gift card

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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose

Source: Atria Books and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Hardcover, 384 pages
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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose (the 6th novel in the Reincarnationist series and available on Kobo) can be read on its own given that Rose provides enough background on Jac L’Etoile and her previous adventures.  The experience of reading these reincarnation books is enriched when the reader delves into The Book of Lost Fragrances and Seduction first.  With that said, Rose has outdone herself in the latest installment, as we see Jac taking the initiative — even if she’s slightly pushed into it by her brother Robbie and Malachai — to deal with her memory lurches and reincarnated lives.  Through a dual narrative — one in the past (1500s) and one in the present — Rose builds on the suspense until the very last page is turned.  Jac is forced to deal with tragedy early on, but she soon immerses herself in a project that keeps her focused and forces her to engage with her questions about reincarnation and more.  In the past, we are given a glimpse of the fine line between perfume and poison as Catherine de Medici’s perfumer René le Florentine, or Renato Bianco, navigates political intrigue, falls in love, and strives to completes his mentor’s — Serapino’s — work on reanimating dying breaths.

“His quest was to capture a person’s last elusive exhalation, to collect his dying breath, then to release it into another living body and reanimate that soul.  To bring it back from the dead.” (page 4 ARC)

Rose’s prose is always sensual, slowly building a mystery that changes at every turn.  Readers are spellbound by Jac’s search for truth, clinging to the hope that Rene’s formula for reanimating breath is real.  Rene and Jac are connected, and that connection only gets stronger as she uncovers the secrets at his chateau in Barbizon, France.  Like the scents that can evoke memory, Jac is drawn once again to Griffin, a man that has captivated for since college, and as they learn more about the past, their future becomes clearer.  Romantic, dark, mysterious — Rose creates a world that is all-encompassing, allowing readers to suspend disbelief about reincarnation and more.  As Jac faces her own demons and those swirling about her, she’s forced to see that fate does not mean she must surrender to an inevitable death or tragedy.

The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose is stunning in its passion, characterization, and setting, with Jac coming to terms with who she has been and who she will be in this life.  Her passion for perfume is the connection she needs to survive the trials before her, and the love of her brother and Griffin are there to sustain her.  Rose is one of the premier writers of mystery and romantic suspense, and she does not fail to captivate her audience from page one to the end.

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

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16th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

10th book for 2014 European Reading Challenge(Set in France)

Seduction by M.J. Rose

Seduction by M.J. Rose shifts from the present day to the 1850s as Jac E’Toile uncovers more of her family and Malachai’s secrets, as well as the connections to seances, the Druids, and reincarnation.  Memories and past lives cricle in on themselves revealing bit by bit how entwined Jac’s life is with Theo Gaspard, the man who invites her to the Isle of Jersey to research the island’s Celtic roots.  In the process, readers see a side of Victor Hugo they may not have heard of before, a side that has been documented in his own notations.  Like the other books in Rose’s reincarnationist series, Seduction can be read as a stand alone novel, though some readers may want to read The Book of Lost Fragrances (my review) first.

“They climbed the wrought-iron circular spiral. Its steps were narrow and turned on themselves sharply, making them hard to navigate and easy to fall down, Jac thought. The upper balcony hung over the fist floor. From the slightly different scent, Jac knew there was a concentration of older volumes up here.” (page 153 ARC)

Rose weaves mystery with romance, history, and elements of spiritualism.  Hugo and the Gaspard family become obsessed with loss and overly consumed to the point where they are nearly willing to make a deal with the devil to bring back those they love.  Jac and Malachai have known each other since she was a teenager, and while he continues to obsess over the search for the 12 memory tools, Jac continues to hold him in esteem until events shake her faith in him.  However, Seduction is less about the search for memory tools and more about uncovering the past and past lives.  Each of these characters is seduced, either by their grief or their fear, and in the end, their triggers may be different but their obsessions threaten to take them over.

“To be a decent writer you must have both empathy and imagination.  While these attributes aid your art, they can plague your soul.  You don’t simply suffer your own sadness, experience your own longing and worry about your own wife and children, you are burdened with experiencing the emotional states of multitudes of others you don’t know.”  (page 80 ARC)

While the narrative slips between Jac’s story and that of Victor Hugo, as well as a period during the time of the Druids, these stories could have easily stood on their own had it not been for the reincarnation connection threading through the entire novel.  In many ways, the connection to Hugo could have been explored without the Druid connection, but Rose’s story arc carries a deeper sense of connection between her characters.  In addition to reincarnation and seances, the narrative has elements of the Gothic, with the dark brooding sea and the mysterious disappearances of young girls, intertwined with the treasure hunt for Victor Hugo’s journal.  Rose’s narrative is like the faint scents of perfume winding their way into the nasal cavity from a distance, only to strengthen as the tantalizing aroma beckons the reader further on the journey to the source.  Seduction by M.J. Rose is a novel full of mystery that only unravels with time and patience as Jac journeys outside her comfort zone to embrace her talents as a perfumer and a reincarnated soul.

I, for one, cannot wait to see what Rose has in store for the next installment in this series, though I’m not ready to say goodbye to Jac.

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook.

Also Reviewed:

The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
The Memorist by M.J. Rose
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose continues the search for the 12 memory tools that Malachai Samuels continues to search for as part of his research and obsession with reincarnation.  The novel focuses not on Samuels per se, but on the history of the L’Etoile family and their development of perfumes and fragrances.  Jac has given up the family business, even though the family has insisted that she has the more discerning nose for scent, but her brother Robbie continues to believe that their family business can be saved from the brink of bankruptcy through the development of a new line of scents rather than from the sale of their trademark scents.

Rose weaves Napoleonic history with that of China and the oppression of Tibet and then brings those ties even further back into history to Egypt and Cleopatra.  In addition to archeology, her characters delve into mythology, history, and hieroglyphics translation and more, creating an even denser and more mysterious novel than expected.  How these moving pieces come together is unexpected and absorbing.

“The corpse on the left didn’t have his arms crossed on his chest, as was the custom.  Instead his right hand was extended and holding the hand of a woman with whom he’d been mummified.  Her left hand was knotted with his.  The two lovers were so lifelike, their bodies so uncorrupted, it appeared they had been buried months ago, not centuries.”  (Page 5 of ARC)

Through shifting time periods and places, readers travel with Rose’s characters to the deep recesses of their past lives, their memories, and their discoveries, while at the same time feeling the time pressure build as the House of L’Etoile draws nearer to demise and Jac’s brother Robbie disappears following a murder.  Jac must confront the loss of her mother and the expectations of her family as she strives to find her brother, find the perfume that people would kill for, and stay alive and grounded.  Jac must learn that forgetting or ignoring the past will not help her move into the future; she must accept what has happened, take it into herself, and move forward with those memories as a part of her.

“His family’s maison in Paris dated back to the mid-eighteenth century.  One shouldn’t tear down the past to make way for the future.  That’s how lessons were lost.  The art of keeping a civilization alive, like the art of making perfume, was in the blending.”  (page 46)

Meanwhile, Xie, a young calligrapher and artist in China, is living a secret life as a subversive.  Outwardly, he is the model citizen never saying too much but always thankful for opportunities presented to him by his teachers and the government.  He’s eventually chosen along with other artists to leave China on a European tour with their artwork, which makes him incredibly nervous given his communications with outsiders through his paintings.  He strives to free Tibetans from Chinese rule.  Although he is friends with others who are more outwardly subversive than he is, he tries desperately to rein in their tendencies, which could get him in trouble as well as ruin all of his plans.

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose blends history and mystery in an intellectual game of espionage and mythology surrounding a lost book of fragrances from the time of Cleopatra and a perfume that can help those who smell it relive their past lives.  But the novel also is about finding one’s soul mate, rekindling lost faith, and persevering against all odds.  Another winner from Rose in her series of books that will keep readers guessing adn second-guessing themselves until the memory tolls are discovered.

Also Reviewed:

The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
The Memorist by M.J. Rose

About the Author:

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her next novel THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES (Atria/S&S) will be published in March 2012.  Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio.  Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com.  The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.  She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook.

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