The March Roundup!

Well folks, the first quarter of the year is over.  Wasn’t it just January 1st?  With the first quarter over I feel the need to evaluate where I am on my reading goal.  I need to read 10 books a month to stay on pace for the overall goal of 120 books read.  At the end of March my year-to-date total was 43 books, 13 books ahead of schedule!!  (The 24 books I finished reading in March went a long way in pushing me over the mark).  You can see a full listing of everything I’ve read so far with links to their reviews here.

Completed favors

Now that March is over I can tell you what really kept me so busy in February!  My mother turned sixty on March 20th and as such my family threw a surprise party for her at the beginning of March! (She’s too smart to have done it any closer to her actual birthday).  Anyway, her birthday falls on the first day of spring so we decided on a “spring” theme for the party.  I’m still shocked that my sister, aunts, and father were able to pull it off without her finding out.  Anyway, back to the planning!  As the crafty sister, I was placed in charge of the centerpieces, favors, and cake!  Working off the spring theme I bought different colored ceramic birds, Spanish moss, and cellophane bags to make birds in nests for each guest to take home.  I really need to pat myself on the back. They came out great and everyone loved them!  Also, sticking with the spring idea I got these awesome colored flower pots to put fresh flowers in for each of the tables.  Unfortunately, that wound up turning into a disaster because the pots were wider than I thought and the flowers were all over the place and ::sigh:: it was a mess.  I wound up having to stuff wet paper towels into the pots with the flowers to prop them up and keep them hydrated.  It was all worth it though just to see the shocked look on my mom’s face.

Surprised mom!

Surprised mom!

I don’t think anything can beat that face. Seriously.  Anyway, we kept busy the rest of the month with visits to my cousin’s house in upstate New York as well as a trip to the vet for Belle and Sebastian.  Our bowling league also finished up the last Thursday of the month and I can happily say I killed it this year!  I finished as the highest scoring female bowler in our league with a high score of 181 (WOO-HOO)!

On the reading front I read a wide variety of genres last month.  Time-traveling, historical fiction, mysteries, romances, graphic novels, and even a few paranormal ones! I definitely covered the entire spectrum this month, and I’m proud to say that I enjoyed every minute!  It’s not every month that I get to be this productive, and I’m happy that I was able to accomplish so many goals in such a short amount of time.   It’s difficult to come up with a top read of the month having read so many different genres, but if I was being forced to pick one I’d have to pick Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.  I quite simply cannot put her Outlander series down.  I have so many reviews forthcoming for all the great books I read in March. I have to say there are not many losers in the bunch.  It was hands down a month full of reading surprises!

Looking forward to April, I can tell you I’m part of a few blog tours for new releases from Michelle Diener (author of In A Treacherous Courtand M.J. Rose (author of  The Book of Lost Fragrances). Todd’s currently reading Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and How To Plant A Body by Terri Ann Armstrong. Adam’s working on his review of Game of the Gods by E.J Dabel, the second book in Dabel’s Pantheons series. Sam’s review for Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason is going to be posted on the blog in the next few days.  Once that’s posted she’s moving on to Firebrand by Gillian Philip and The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Jess is reading a biography about Sylvia Plath entitled Mad Girl’s Love Song.  Charlie’s working on an interview with Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and writer for Doctor Who!  And Christine is reading Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott and Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering.  The staff is doing a fantastic job at keeping this blog well-rounded and full of book selections for all genres and all readers.  My thanks and praise goes out to them!

Well folks, that’s March in a nutshell.

Until next time, happy reading!

Lost Fragrances with author M.J. Rose

On Monday I shared my review with you of The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose.  M.J. has been kind enough to stop by the blog today to share with us one of these “lost fragrances”.  Thanks M.J.!

I’ve been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances… since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother’s dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination… (reasearched and described  with the help of the perfume writer  Dimitrios Dimitriadis)

SAUZÉ FRÈRES – EAU DE LAVANDE CRISTAL QUINTESSENCE

In perfumery, notes of citrus and lavender typify traditional eaux, however this long-lost splash by French brothers Sauzé is an atypical rendering of a classic cologne.

Eau de Lavande Cristal veers away from the expected and instead startles and surprises with warm hesperidic notes that are distinctly mediterranean in style. Lemon and lavender play a starring role, but a bouquet of stirring herbaceous notes, aleppo pine and dry mosses make for a fragrance which has a “summer in the Mediterranean” appeal. Perhaps one of the best in its category, Eau de Lavande Cristal is a little-known and incredibly rare scent that regrettably, has not withstood the ages.

Author Bio:

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.

Continue following M.J. on her virtual book tour around the web to learn about other “lost fragrances.”  A full listing of all tour spots is here.  You can also follow on Twitter by searching the hashtag: #LostFragrancesVirtualBookTour 

#20 A Review of The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose – Blog Tour

When I was approached to join the blog tour for The Book of Lost Fragrances, I was intrigued to say the least.  Historical adventure and mystery are pretty standard fare for me, but historical fiction centered around fragrance?  That was definitely a new one.  Egged on by my curiosity and the interesting cover of this novel, I dove right in and immersed myself in the search for this mysterious fragrance.

Jac L’Etoile has had a complicated past.  The heir to a famous French perfume company, Jac seeks to leave this past behind, which included her mother’s suicide, and make a new start in America.  Unfortunately for her, it is not to be.  After leaving for America she leaves the company in her brother Robbie’s capable hands.  However, she receives notice that not only did Robbie make a startling discovery in the family archives once Jac left, but he is now missing and a dead body has been found in his stead!  Traveling back to Paris to find her brother, Jac discovers a secret perfume that has been in the L’Etoile family for centuries.  This fragrance has the ability to elucidate the mystery of reincarnation, and has a history that is more exciting than any history book.  Now, not only does Jac seek to find her brother, but she also finds herself in hot pursuit of this intriguing fragrance that people have literally died over.  Will she be able to find her brother and unlock the mysteries shrouded by this secret fragrance?

What struck me most about Rose’s work is her writing style.  The fluid and descriptive manner of her writing flows as easily as the descriptions of the fragrance and its exotic components.  It’s almost as if her style was fitted perfectly to the subject matter, making the two dovetail into each other.  Another interesting component of Rose’s writing was how well the subject matter was covered.  It was quite obvious that she did a ton of homework on the subject, with the history thoroughly covered and the fragrance sections told in wonderful detail.  My sense of smell became an active part of reading this novel, because after all, what would a book about a perfume be without a sense of smell?  The descriptors of the fragrances were incredibly complex and varied, giving me a window into the complexities that are introduced when crafting a fragrance.  The different notes were described almost like one would describe the complex flavors of a wine, with loving detail and luxury.

All in all, paring this new subject I had not encountered before with something as familiar to me as historical fiction worked out better than I could have expected.  The plot lines of past and present day in the novel were stitched together seamlessly, and I have to give Rose a good deal of credit for her abilities in storyline construction as well.  All in all, a very solid effort that left me wanting to learn more about fragrances and their connections to the past.  Definitely worth a read!

5 out of 5 stars

This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose
Atria Books (2012)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN:  9781451621303

Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy!  I’m just one stop on the blog tour for The Book of Lost Fragrances!  You can check out all the other stops here!  For those of you on Twitter, follow the hashtag: #LostFragrancesVirtualBookTour

The February Round-Up

February was a fairly lackluster month outside of the reading front.  I continued with my strong reading pace adding another 13 books to my total for the year! (Currently at 28 for the year which is about 25% of my total goal!!!)  Nothing big has happened this month besides Todd’s skiing accident (more on this later).  Besides our weekly bowling sessions we’ve kept busy with some trips to NYC again this month.  Staff blogger Adam had his birthday this month, so a trip to NYC to celebrate was a must!  Our first day in the city I met up with my sister to run some errands for her wedding.  We had lunch at Eataly which was absolutely sublime.  If you have never been to/heard of Eataly you are missing out 100%.  Mario Batali collaborated with other chefs and food industry professionals and created an Italian haven.  There are sections of Eataly where you can stop and eat whatever your heart desires ( all within an Italian style of course).  Besides all of the munching stations you can buy TONS of imported food from Italy – pasta, sauce, oil, cheese, etc.  You can easily spend $100 in there in 5 seconds flat.  Everything made me reminisce about my trip to Italy this past spring, so you can bet your bottom dollar I bought a bunch of Italy home with me that night.  Before heading out to Adam’s birthday celebration at a bar on the Upper East Side called Off the Rails, Todd and I went to dinner with my sister and her fiancée for our first taste of Korean food! It was delicious and I can’t wait to get it again!  Adam’s party was a great way to catch up with friends from college, and a good time was had by all!  Of course before heading back to Connecticut a trip to The Strand was thrown in.  I picked up some exciting YA reads and was able to get some of them completed this month already!

Me and Grandma!

Other than our trip to NYC the only other exciting thing to happen this month was a celebration for my aunt and grandma’s birthdays!  Grandma hit the big 90 this year!  Very big milestone!

Now as I mentioned earlier in my post, Todd unfortunately had a skiing accident this past weekend.  He slipped on some ice on the mountain, hitting his head and causing a serious concussion, which wound up causing a seizure.  Fortunately besides a shoulder injury and some facial cuts he is doing much better.  He has some follow-up doctors appointments to attend, but we’re hoping for the best.  If you notice his lack of posting in the coming weeks, it’s due to his needing rest (both mentally and physically) to recoup.  He says to tell you all hello though!

On to the bookish front!  I tried to keep my choices eclectic again opting for fiction, historical fiction, and some young adult dystopias.  As always I’m still behind on my reviews (OY). I’m hoping to catch up in the next two weeks.  My favorite read for the month was definitely Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Wither is the first novel in her Chemical Garden trilogy; book 2 Fever just came out last week!  I was lucky enough to snatch up signed copies of BOTH from my local Barnes and Noble.  (I have an unsigned copy of Wither to give away with my review, so keep an eye out!)

As always we have some interesting reviews coming up in the blog front.  We’re taking part in two blog tours in March – one for The Book of Lost Fragrances, the other for Dinner With Lisa.  Besides the books I’m reading and reviewing Adam has some historical fiction novel reviews coming and Charlie is reviewing Steve Jobs’ biography near the end of the month.  Todd also has  few books in the queue once he’s feeling better.  In the coming days there might be a new staff announcement as well!! (So excited about this!)

Anyway, that wraps up another month.  Where has 2012 flown by to??  I hope your February was a great one.  Leave any book recommendations you have below!

As Always – Happy Reading!