Friday, February 24, 2012

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J Rose

Overview from Goodreads:

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

My Comments:

Have you ever smelled something and been transported back to an earlier point in your life?  This happens to me whenever I smell honey-suckle.  Suddenly, I’m thinking back to my childhood  and all the memories surrounding growing up in our first family home.

That is part of the premise for this book.  How a scent, sometimes that of perfume, can trigger past memories.  In the case of this story, those memories can also come from past lives for those who believe in reincarnation.
In The Book of Lost Fragrances, the author magically weaves a plot that includes Chinese politics and mafia,  psychology, reincarnation and Buddhism, along with the science of perfume and archeology into a fast paced, page turning story.  It took me awhile to connect the different intersecting story lines, and while sometimes it was a bit overwhelming, I think the author did a good job of tying it all together in the end.
This is the first book I have read by M.J. Rose.  I’m impressed enough by her writing that I have added some of her other books to my never ending to be read list.
I want to thank netGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

The expected publication date is March 13, 2012.

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Overview from Goodreads:

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead--and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

My Review:

This was such a beautifully written book.  I did not know that the basis for this story is a Russian fairy tale.  The author wrote so descriptively that I could often “see” the scenes in my head.  The story was about sadness and humor, loneliness and family, love and letting go.  It covers many years in Jack and Mabel’s life, from the first appearance of Faina (the snow child) and the numerous years she was in their lives.  Is Faina something magical?  Or is she real?  Sorry – you’ll have to read this truly lovely book to find out.
My rating: *****

Cooking the Books (A Sloane Templeton Mystery #1) by Bonnie Calhoun

On Overview from Goodreads:

After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy

My Comments:

This was a really fun read!  There is a nice mix of quirky characters and I especially liked the main character, Sloane Templeton.   I often found myself laughing out loud, but was surprised when it ended up as a page turning mystery novel.   The book title indicates this is book #1, so it sounds like there will be more to come from smart funny Sloane – lucky us!

Thanks you to NetGalley and Abingdon Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Publication Date: April 2, 2012
Rating:  ****