Excerpt and cover reveal – The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

You may remember that I adored the first two books in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. I’m pleased to announce that I can share with you today an excerpt of the third book in the trilogy, The Book of Life, which will be out this summer on July 15th.

Ghosts didn’t have much substance; they were composed only of memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.

It had been her witch’s sixth sense that someone was in mortal peril that had steered Emily down the path leading to this moment. But the death she had foreseen was her own.

Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?

Not that I’ve noticed, Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying his own transparent fingers.

Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two.

Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said more gently. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the Afterworld.

Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements. Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down on the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the chateau.

There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, his vampire sight was sharper than any human’s. He was also still more handsome than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.

Vampires weren’t supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and so Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same celadon eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.

Is Matthew – bigger? . . . Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long coppery hair.

Diana stumbled on a cobblestone and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her.

It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child – Matthew’s child.

Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the supernatural grasp of truth that death afforded.

What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier.

Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.

Diana has always resisted change, Emily said.

That is because she is afraid of what she must become, replied Philippe.


From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House company. Copyright Deborah Harkness, 2014.


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A partial list of things in my Netflix queue

TV Shows

Top of the Lake
Psych (desperately waiting for season 7 episodes to be added)
Friday Night Lights



More Than Honey
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale
Hitler’s Children
H. H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer


TV Documentaries(ish)

Prehistoric Disasters
Prophets of Science Fiction
How Beer Saved the World
Too Cute



The Artist
A Royal Affair
The Secret of Kells


Recently Watched

What Not to Wear
Ken Burns: Prohibition
The Avengers


Any favorites here I should get to first? Anything I’m missing and should add right away?

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Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, The Testing, this review will include spoilers for The Testing.

Cia made it through the Testing, but now that she has a record of what she went through during that time – most of the participants were made to forget it – she is constantly uneasy. Will her next mistake cost her her life? Things don’t get any easier when Cia is placed in her learning program. First she is assigned an unheard of number of classes, and then she is put through an initiation by the older students in her program. As things escalate, Cia becomes increasingly determined to figure out just what exactly is going on and who – if anyone – she can trust.

Independent Study is perhaps not quite as action packed as The Testing, but this is to be expected for the second book in the trilogy. What impresses me is that it doesn’t suffer from the mid-series slump, despite being quite a bridge book between what happened in The Testing and what is coming in Graduation Day. Charbonneau keeps up a good amount of action, particularly with the initiation rites. At the same time, Cia and the reader are able to gain measure of insight into what exactly is happening in the United Commonwealth.

Independent Study continues the story of The Testing and sets up Graduation Day while managing to tell its own story as well. This makes for a very nice middle of the series book. Recommended.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Author.

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Sound Bytes – January 2014 Link-Up

The formerly weekly audiobook review link-up Sound Bytes is now a monthly link-up. I encourage you to leave links to any audiobooks you review throughout the month and check out the links of other reviewers for your next great listen. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.


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Catching Fire – Movie Thoughts

As I am writing this, I got home about twenty minutes ago from seeing the second installment in the The Hunger Games trilogy (although, are the actually doing the third book in one movie? I have a suspicion it might be in two), Catching Fire. Let me say, ah-may-zing.

You guys, Catching Fire is so, so good. I’ll admit that it was maybe also my favorite book of the series, so maybe it isn’t surprising that I loved movie, although that much love for a book gives the movie a lot to live up to. When the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was announced I was initially really skeptical. All I knew about her was having seen her on the red carpet at the Oscars when she was nominated for Winter’s Bone and she just looked SO glamorous that I couldn’t see her as Katniss in a million years. But she is really fabulous. I absolutely forget that she is Jennifer Lawrence, despite the fact that her face has launched a thousand gifs.

She IS Katniss. She just is, she inhabits her completely, both Katniss’s heroic attributes, and her more annoying ones. Really, all the casting is fabulous. I wasn’t sure about the guy who plays Finnick because he, too, didn’t look right to me, but I thought he was wonderful as well, and I forgot how unsure I was about him and just ate it all up with a spoon. The only thing I will say about the casting is that as much as I was Team Peeta in the books, Liam Hemsworth has me drifting over to Team Gale. He is super adorable.

What I really loved about the movie, though? The Victory Tour. Oh my gosh, I cried ALL THE TEARS. It just killed me dead. I mean, it killed me dead in the book, too, those are very moving scenes, but seeing Katniss actually facing Rue’s family and the response of the crowd. Man. I just cannot. I’m thinking I’m going to have to go back and see it again. My plan is to go by myself and sit in the very way back of the theater so I can just ugly cry in peace throughout the whole thing.

If you would like to read an essay about Catching Fire that is a smart and funny reaction, rather than my emotional ALL THE FEELS reaction, I very highly recommend the one Linda Holmes (who is my FAVORITE, but more about that when I get around to discussing Pop Culture Happy Hour) wrote on the NPR Monkey See blog about Katniss’s movie girlfriend.

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