Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths


Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose

Surprisingly steamy, The Collector of Dying Breaths  is the next novel in M.J. Rose’s Reincarnationist series. Though reknowned mythologist Jac L’Etoile is the heroine in each of the novels, they definitely stand on their own. You won’t need to read the previous Jac L’Etoile novels in order to follow The Collector of Dying Breaths. While the novel has a slow start, its sensuality and steamy sex scenes partly make up for it.

The story alternates between Jac’s research and attempt to uncover her patrons’ secret and Rene’s rise to power as Queen Catherine de Medici’s royal perfumer. Jac L’Etoile is the heiress of an old French perfume family. Years ago she eschewed the world of perfume to study and debunk myths. She can’t escape her olfactory gift and her past life memories. After the death of a loved one, she learns of the sixteenth-century perfumer Rene  le Florentine, who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. Her research returns her to Florence, Italy as she chases the secret recipe to the elixir.

M.J. Rose does a great job of transporting her readers to the past, even if it’s just a small glimpse into Rene’s life. Those scenes were by far my favorite of the novel. I didn’t felt drawn into the story until well past the halfway mark. There simply was too much exposition to catch up readers who had not read the previous novels. By the time I became engrossed into the novel, it was pretty much over. However, I’ve come to know and love Jac and her love interest Griffin and was pleased to see that they resolved their issues. (Any more detail and I’ll spoil it for you!)

Overall, I was lukewarm about  The Collector of Dying Breaths, but I definitely enjoyed more than her previous novel Seduction (review here).

 TCODB_Tour Banner_FINAL

Big thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for a copy of the book! Want to learn more about the book? Visit the The Collector of Dying Breaths Tour page for more.

Book Club Day: Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

When a mother’s child is hurt, she tries her best to make him or her feel better. What if she’s unable to help?  In Rosamund Lupton’s  Afterwards, Grace attempts to discover the culprit who set fire to her children’s school but faces an obstacle that she cannot overcome.

Our book club members felt passionate about this novel and its themes. This was an intense for many of our members as there are a lot of mothers in our community.  Visit their blogs and join our discussion for Afterwards:



Are you dying to know who the arsonist was? Grab a your copy of  Afterwards and find out. In the meantime, you can also find Rosamond Lupton at her websiteFacebook page, and on Twitter.

Have you read Afterwards? What are your thoughts on it?

January Book Club Announcement: The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats by Chris Pavone

The Expats by Chris Pavone

Our book club members are starting out 2013 with a bit of intrigue and mystery. In the thriller The Expats by Chris Pavone, we travel with protagonist Kate Moore to Luxemburg.  She leaves her secret behind to start a new life, but it’s not as easy as she thinks:

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored.

Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they say they are, and she’s terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun, a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money, and finally unravels the mind-boggling long-play con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.

Grab your copy of The Expats and join us on January 22 as From Left to Write members discuss secrets, intrigue and double-lives.

The Expats is currently available in hardcover and e-book, but paperbacks are currently available for pre-order.

Book Review: The Intercept by Dick Wolf

The Intercept by Dick Wolf

The Intercept by Dick Wolf

I’m a fan of the different incarnations of Law & Order television shows, so it was no surprise that I found the premise creator Dick Wolf’s debut novel, The Intercept: A Jeremy Fisk Novel. Wolf introduces readers to Jeremy Fisk, who is a detective in NYPD’s Intelligence Division.

The novel brings to life the very real world of terrorism post-Osama bin Laden. After an airplane hijacking is foiled by six fellow passengers, the race is on for Fisk and his team to discover if another terrorist plot is in store for New York. With only a few days before the President’s visit to New York for July 4 activities, Fisk is sure that bin Laden’s protegees have a high profile attacked planned.

Dick Wolf  provides plenty of action and suspense, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Thank goodness for that because I would have given up on the novel otherwise. The story line was much more fascinating that the novel’s main character Jeremy Fisk. Even halfway through the book, I felt like I barely knew Fisk. How does his mind connect the dots? What makes him think the way he does? No clue. All I know is that Fisk is great at his job.

It seems pretty obvious that Wolf and publisher William Morrow hopes that The Intercept will become a successful series.  To keep my interest, series like these need compelling characters. It’s the detective’s personality that will make me read the next book in the series. If there is a second Jeremy Fisk book in the works, I expect that the second book will give readers much more character development. Fisk will be a bit more, let’s say, tortured.

I found The Intercept: A Jeremy Fisk Novel a bit lukewarm when it comes to Detective Fisk and fairly exciting for its fast paced action. The Intercept is available for pre-order and will be released Wednesday, December 26.

I received a copy of the galley for review. All opinions are my own.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Review)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn


Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn Cover

Tip: Don’t read Sharp Objects in the dark of night when your apartment is quiet, except for the random creaks and bumps from your neighboring walls. I mean you could, but I was totally creeped out as I read Gillian Flynn’s description the murder of two preteens in a fictional Midwest town.

Let me rewind a bit.

Protagonist Camille Preaker’s first big assignment is to return to her hometown to cover the murder of two young girls for her Chicago newspaper. For someone who has avoided their hometown for eight years, Camille carries more than her fair share of baggage. The longer Camille stays in town, the more she reverts to her old self. She must rely on what she learned from her recent stay at the psych hospital in order to discover the preteens’ murder.  Besides her challenging work assignment, she must also deal with her estranged relationship with her mom and half-sister.

Besides taking a reading break because I was so creeped out by the murders, I could hardly put the novel down. Flynn fed me bits and pieces of Camille’s past, and I devoured each page, searching for more details. I can’t tell you much more without giving the away important parts of the novel.

Flynn does a fantastic job illustrating emotionally (and physically) wounded characters and weaving their worlds together in this thriller. All I could say after the last page was: WOW.  A thriller needs a good satisfying conclusion and Sharp Objects did not disappoint.

I received a copy of Sharp Objects from publisher. Thanks Crown Publishing!

The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose (Review)

Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose

Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose

Since I don’t wear perfume, I’ve never give much thought to the skill it takes to create a fragrance. Scents and fragrances can bring up past experiences and feelings from those memories. Can perfumes do more than evoke those feelings?

In her new book The Book of Lost Fragrances, M. J. Rose introduces her readers into L’Etoile family. Born into a long line of French perfumers, siblings Robbie and Jac are at odds. Haunted by the past, Jac relies on fact and evidence to cope with the world around her. When her brother goes missing along with an artifact that can unlock the mystery to reincarnation, Jac has face all the secrets she locked away to help find her brother.

This suspense novel isn’t just about the relationship between siblings. M.J. Rose takes the story through Cleopatra’s Egypt, modern day China, and post-revolutionary France. Since our From Left to Write members read Cleopatra last year, I was fascinated by Rose’s mention of Cleopatra’s lost book of fragrance formulas.

For a non-believer, all the talk about past lives and reincarnation may be a turn off at first. However Rose ties this theme of her novel to China’s 2007 edict that all living Buddhas must request permission to reincarnate. This edict was believed to be China’s way of controlling the Dali Lama, and in turn, Tibet.

I don’t want to tell you any more of the story because Rose deftly pulls together the characters and their memories. Or is it memories of their past lives? It’s clear that Rose has done her research for The Book of Lost Fragrances. From her description to a perfumer’s organ (a table with bottles of absolute scents for mixing perfumes) to mazes of Paris’ catacombs, I could imagine the scents in each setting as I imagine my character walking through them.

If you like suspense novels that will whisk you away to different times and different countries, I highly recommend The Book of Lost Fragrances.

I received a galley of the book for review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.