Friday, May 13, 2016

Review: SECONDHAND SOULS by Christopher Moore

Secondhand Souls cover

About Secondhand Souls

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 10, 2016)

In San Francisco, the souls of the dead are mysteriously disappearing—and you know that can't be good—in this delightfully weird and funny sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Dirty Job.

It seems like only yesterday that Charlie Asher took on a very dirty job—collecting souls and keeping the Forces of Darkness at bay. The new gig came with the Big Book of the Dead and a host of other oddities: creatures under the streets, an evil trinity of ravenlike Celtic death goddesses, and one very bad Underworld dude attempting to conquer humanity. Along with a cohort of other oddballs, Charlie faced off against these denizens of darkness—and met his own end. But thanks to Audrey, his Buddhist-nun boo, his soul is still alive . . . inside a fourteen-inch-high body made from lunch meat and spare animal parts. Waiting for Audrey to find him a suitable new body to play host, Charlie has squirreled himself away from everyone, including his adorable seven-year-old daughter, Sophie, who enjoys dressing up like a princess, playing with her glitter ponies, and—being the Luminatus—spouting off about her power over the Underworld and her dominion over Death. 

Just when Charlie and company thought the world was safe, some really freaky stuff hits San Francisco. People are dying, but their souls are not being collected. Someone—or something—is stealing them and no one knows where they are going, or why, but it has something to do with that big orange bridge. Then there's the Taser-wielding banshee keening about doom who's suddenly appeared while Sophie's guardian hellhounds, Alvin and Mohammed, have mysteriously vanished. Charlie is just as flummoxed as everyone else. To get to the bottom of this abomination, he and a motley crew of heroes will band together: the seven-foot-tall, two-hundred-and-seventy-five-pounds-of-lean-heartache Death Merchant Minty Fresh; the retired policeman-turned-bookseller Alphonse Rivera; the lunatic Emperor of San Francisco and his dogs, Bummer and Lazarus; Mike Sullivan, a bridge painter in love with a ghost; a gentle French-speaking janitor named Jean-Pierre Baptiste; and former Goth girl Lily Darquewillow Elventhing Severo, now a part-time suicide hotline counselor. With little Sophie babbling about the coming battle for the very soul of humankind, time is definitely not on their side. . . . Irresistibly zany, rich in humor, heart, and spirit, Secondhand Souls is vintage Christopher Moore.

My Review:

A Dirty Job was the first book that I read by Christopher Moore, and it was the book that made me fall in love with this talented author. Despite the fact that I've read several other books that he has written since then, A Dirty Job holds a special place in my heart. I was thrilled to discover that he had come out with a sequel, and I read it from the first page to the last in nearly a single sitting. It is that good!

I loved revisiting characters from the previous book, and I enjoyed getting to know some new ones. The humour is unrivaled, and the wackiness of the plot and characters will keep the reader both laughing and guessing. The ending was unexpected and satisfying. I would recommend reading A Dirty Job before reading Secondhand Souls, but I would hazard to say that it is not absolutely necessary to enjoy this book without reading the other one first.

Moore is a truly unique author with something fresh and different to bring to the table. No matter what he writes, he keeps me guessing. I can only hope that he will bring these characters to life once more with a third installment to this series! My thanks to TLC book tours for inviting me along on this tour.

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Christopher Moore photo by Charlee MooreAbout Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the author of fourteen previous novels, including Lamb, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and The Serpent of Venice. Find out more about Christopher at his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

From the Publisher's Website:

If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

Jessie loves her son Lucas more than anything, but it tears her up inside that he was conceived in an affair that ended her marriage to a man she still loves, a man who just told her he's getting remarried. This time around, she’s determined to bury the secret of Lucas’ paternity, and to repair the fissures that sent her wandering the first time.

Gabriela regrets that she wasted her most fertile years in hot pursuit of a publishing career. Yes, she’s one of the biggest authors in the world, but maybe what she really wanted to create was a family. With a chance to do it again, she’s focused on convincing her husband, Colin, to give her the baby she desires.

Claire is the only one who has made peace with her past: her twenty-two year old daughter, Emily, is finally on track after the turmoil of adolescence, and she's recently gotten engaged, with the two carat diamond on her finger to prove it. But if she’s being honest, Claire still fantasizes about her own missed opportunities: a chance to bond with her mother before it was too late, and the possibility of preventing her daughter from years of anguish. Plus, there’s the man who got away—the man who may have been her one true love.

But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…

My Review:

I always look forward to Liz and Lisa's latest release- no matter what they write it goes immediately on my wish list as soon as I learn about it. Although time travel and re-living your past is a theme that I've read before I was looking forward to seeing how Liz and Lisa would add their unique twist to it, and I wasn't disappointed!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about three women who are given the chance to re-live their past in order to make (hopefully) better decisions. What I especially enjoyed is the fact that I had no idea what the ending would be! Predictable endings certainly have their place ( I enjoy a good predictable ending now and again!) but sometimes it's nice to not know what is going to happen, and I can truly say that I didn't know what would happen this time until it actually happened. It was nice to be left guessing!

Complex and well-written, The Year We Turned Forty is a worthy addition to your beach bag for this summer (if you can wait that long to read it!). My favourite author duo has done it again- creating a story so seamless that you will be amazed that it was written by two authors instead of one. At times the story had me laughing, other times it saddened me, and at the end it kept me guessing. I enjoyed it and I can't wait to see what these authors come out with next!

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton

Ever since she married young, Jean has been busy trying to be the perfect wife. When her husband Glen told her not to come in to his office at night without knocking first, she complied. When he told her to pretend that she lost their credit card and to cancel it, she did. When he told her that the stuff downloaded on to their computer was downloaded accidentally, she believed him. When he told her that there was absolutely no way that he kidnapped Baby Bella, a missing child located not that far from them, she believed him. Who could possibly kidnap a child? Not her husband.

But now Glen is dead, hit by a bus when he tripped outside of a shopping centre, and the truth is free to come out. Jean is tired of being the perfect wife, tired of carrying such awful secrets, and she's ready to let go of them- but only in her own time. Veteran reporter Kate has wormed her way into Jean's confidence and Jean is finally ready to tell her side of the story.

It's only recently that I have become a fan of psychological thrillers. Books such as Gone Girl, The Good Girl, and The Girl on the Train introduced me to this new-to-me genre and I can say that The Widow is truly one of the best that I've read so far. Author Fiona Barton tells the story of the mystery behind the disappearance of toddler Bella from multiple points of view, and from various key times throughout the several years after Bella's disappearance. We hear from Jean, the widow of the man accused of taking her, Glen himself, Kate, the reporter with much invested in the story, and the detective in charge of the case who will be unable to rest until the truth comes out. Although the format (bouncing between different POV's and times) had the potential to be confusing, it wasn't at all. I was quickly able to determine who was narrating each chapter, and what point in time it was.

I found The Widow absolutely riveting. I couldn't put it down, I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and although I guessed around the ending, the conclusion still had me fascinated. Although the subject matter is certainly dark (kidnapping and child pornography), Barton is careful never to delve into overly graphic descriptions, keeping the book readable. This is by far one of the best books that I have read this year and it will stay with me for quite some time, I'm sure.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wendy Wax's Cheez Doodle Challenge!


Author known for her Ten Beach Road novels, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey and others asks readers to choose a favorite—Cheez DoodlesÒ or CheetosÒ

Author Wendy Wax has issued a challenge to readers asking them to make a choice, Cheez DoodlesÒ or CheetosÒ, and to vote for their favorite.  The challenge, which began April 7th, has its roots in Wax’s Ten Beach Road novels Ten Beach Road, Ocean Beach, The House on Mermaid Point and her novella Christmas at the Beach, all of which include protagonist Avery Lawford, whose obsession with Cheez Doodles is so well known among fans that they’ve served them at book club meetings and at Wax’s appearances.
“Avery has stood firm through three, soon to be four, novels in her allegiance to, and unbridled enthusiasm for, her personal ambrosia, Cheez Doodles,” says Wax.  “I finally asked myself how do we know she’s right? Are they really the hands down choice? When was the last time she compared Cheez Doodles to other cheesy puffs?   Quite frankly, I’m not certain a Cheeto has ever crossed her lips. I think it’s time to call Avery’s bluff and I’m asking readers to help by voting for their favorite.”
Voters are invited to post photos of themselves with their choice of the two cheesy snacks on social media if they’d like, tagging Wax’s Facebook page and using the hashtag #cheesedoodlechallange to share and connect with her and others enjoying the challenge. In addition to casting their vote, participants are entered for a chance to win one of five advance reading copies of the new Ten Beach Road novel, Sunshine Beach, on sale June 21st.  Voting ends Thursday, 4/21.
Over the years Wendy Wax has entertained readers with a dozen novels celebrating women’s friendship, relationships and triumph over adversity. Among them are her three Ten Beach Road titles with its cast of characters readers return to time and again, A Week at the Lake, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, The Accidental Bestseller, Magnolia Wednesdays and more. 


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Thursday, March 31, 2016

THE WELL PATH: Lose 20 Pounds, Reverse the Aging Process, Change Your Life by Jame Heskett M.D.

The Well Path coverAbout The Well Path

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (March 8, 2016)

Lose twenty pounds and reverse the aging process in just sixty days with this clinically proven, holistic lifestyle plan from an anti-aging expert whose clients include some of New York City’s most successful women. Most diets don’t work because they restrict food intake and put inconsistent physical stress on the body, starving cells, throwing hormones out of whack, and slowing down metabolism.

In The Well Path, Dr. Jamé Heskett offers us a radical new approach: In order to lose weight, we first have to heal the damage we’ve done to our bodies from years of dieting. Before we can lose weight for good, we need to achieve homeostasis—total balance in the body, with all its systems working in concert. When you're there, you’re full of energy, look and feel younger, and lose weight effortlessly

The Well Path is her sixty-day plan to get you there. Dr. Heskett provides a detailed week-by-week and day-by-day calendar of small changes and challenges to get you on your own Well Path. You begin with Well Prep, a month-long period to get you acclimated to simple lifestyle changes. The second month is devoted to Well Practice, a road map to homeostasis that focuses on six areas of

CHANGE: Circulation—improving the vascular system gets rid of stored fat and toxins

HUNGER—learning to identify real and false hunger to avoid overeating

ACTIVITY—non-exercise activity that can burn hundreds of extra calories

NUTRITION—a diverse array of nutrients (especially fiber) to improve gut absorption and balance hormones

GENERAL HEALTH—the importance of sleep, sex, stress, and social interaction

EXERCISE—Dr. Heskell’s code for maximum fat-for-energy exercise conversion

The Well Path will take you from sickness to health, fat to fit, and old to young—in just sixty days.

Praise for The Well Path

“Dr. Heskett believes, as do I, that vibrant health is achieved by making natural, holistic changes. By following The Well Path, any woman can be her best, lose weight and grow younger-and have a great time doing it.” — Jane Seymour, actress, artist, and author of The Wave

“In The Well Path, Dr. Jamé Heskett offers not another diet or workout plan but a real, integrative, whole-body solution that supports and empowers women to be the healthiest, most vital versions of themselves they can be.” — Christie Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author of Timeless Beauty

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Jame HeskettAbout Jamé Heskett, M.D.

Jamé Heskett, M.D. is the founder and director of Wellpath, an anti-aging and wellness center in New York City. Dr. Heskett received her M.D. in family health from George Washington University and completed her postgraduate residency training at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, rounding out her medical practice with a formal education in homeopathy and naturopathy which she integrates into her practice. The mother of three children, she lives with her family in New York City. Find out more about Dr. Heskett and The Well Path at her website, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

My Review:

I haven't yet had the chance to fully implement all of the wonderful suggestions included in this book, but I am already loving the approach! The Well Path is all about losing weight the healthy way, and not by restricting calories. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that they don't work.You end up famished and searching out calories all day (at least I do!). The Well Path offers a concrete plan for those like myself who are hoping to lose weight and keep it off long term.

The one thing that I noticed is that some of the ingredients in the suggested soup recipes may be hard to source if you live in a smaller town such as I do. I would have loved some alternate suggestions!

I look forward to fully implementing The Well Path in my life and I thank TLC Book Tours for inviting me along on this tour!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: PERFECTLY BROKEN by Robert Burke Warren

Grant Kelly used to be a rock star of sorts but he's traded in that life for a life of ups and downs with his beautiful wife Beth and their young son Evan. Grant stays at home with Evan, aided by the medication that he takes to keep depression at bay, and Beth is a publicist who is between clients. The family finds it impossible to stay in overpriced New York given their current financial situation so they accept their friends' generous offer of a place to rent and they move into a Catskills farmhouse.

Uprooting their entire lives may seem like it is one of the harder things that they have to do, but indeed the worst is yet to come. Seeing their friends and new landlords,Trip and Christa, after several years unearths a whole mess of issues that they couldn't have imagined. Meeting Trip and Christa's adopted daughter turns out to be a disaster as she is a terror and not very well adjusted. Their friends' marriage seems to be rocky at best and both friends seem to cope only using the prescription drugs that they have come to rely on. Trip and Christa's issues only seem to echo Grant and Beth's own. From Beth's drug-addicted brother to their own relationship fraught with tension, moving only seems to create tension instead of relieving some.

I'll admit that Perfectly Broken started slow for me. The writing itself was very good but Grant seemed whiny and it was hard to feel sympathy for him. I found myself rolling my eyes at his manufactured angst- it seemed as if he wanted everyone to feel sorry for him, and he appeared to feel slighted if not everyone did. However I believe that this is how author Robert Burke Warren wanted Grant to be portrayed initially, and he did a great job of it.

I found myself far more taken with the story about halfway through. That's when the tension between all of the characters really ratcheted up a notch and things began to happen. I found myself more invested in the plot at this point and I was rapidly turning pages to find out what would happen.

What I appreciated the most about Perfectly Broken is that the characters are laid bare before us. They are raw, emotionally naked, and very flawed. Burke Warren did not sugarcoat the very difficult topics of parenting, financial strain, marriage and infidelity. In truth, life does not always hand us the easiest hand and it is up to us to navigate murky waters without a guide, and Perfectly Broken illustrates the fact that, while things may not always be easy, they are most definitely worth it.

Perfectly Broken was an interesting book, one that was very different from what I usually read, but one that opened up my eyes to how satisfying it can be to curl up with something different from my usual fare. I enjoyed the writing itself and although I didn't agree with many of the choices that the characters made, that is part of what made this book so likable. I look forward to seeing what this author writes in the future. My thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to review this book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

PORN MONEY AND WANNABE MUMMY by Laura Barnard- Release Day!

I'm so excited to welcome Laura Barnard to The Book Chick Blog today! Like Laura I, too enjoy wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while eating chocolate. A match made in heaven!

What is it about turning thirty that sends rational women into a tailspin? 

Suddenly going from having all the time in the world, to cringing at the ticking of her biological clock, Poppy is drowning under the strain of trying to get pregnant. 

With a dad in the throes of a mid-life crisis, a crazy mother-in-law and time racing towards Lilly's wedding, will she be able to cope with it all...and give Ryan the baby they so desperately want? 

Finally able to inherit her dad's porn money, Jazz can't wait to be rich! She can buy a house in Chelsea, go out partying with her old mates and start living how she deserves. 

But with Ollie, Jemima and Meryl each clawing at their own little piece of her happiness, will she have to leave behind those closest to her in exchange for it? 

The real question is, can Poppy and Jazz rescue their own lives before everything gets ruined, or will their own stubbornness destroy the lives they've created

Author info

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or 'chick lit' as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She's a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

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