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Holly Kerr has written another engaging book, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Charlotte is a late 20’s young woman who, we discover a couple of chapters into the book, is a spy for a very top secret intelligence agency in Canada. She doesn’t even know she’s a spy!

Apparently, she agreed to have her memories wiped clean before going on a mission so that if she was captured, she would have nothing to divulge.  So she doesn’t know that she has been living with the man who is believed to be financing a counter agency of mercenary spies.

It’s fast paced. The entire 240-ish pages spans about 48 hours in Charlotte’s life…the weekend when she was told of her life as a spy then kidnapped by the counter spy agency then rescued then sent on a mission to free a fellow spy! Charlotte’s head is spinning, and so is that of the Reader…in a good way.

I truly enjoyed this one. It is smooth reading, well paced, and keeps the Reader on their toes to keep up with things. However, I will mention that there are considerable errors which should have been caught by a copy editor or even a proof reader. That doesn’t keep me from recommending it. Just be warned. I found a little over 30 errors where there were extra words that were not cleaned up during edits and/or words missing from a sentence. It didn’t keep me from liking the book, which is rare for me because I am usually a stickler for that sort of thing.

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Note: I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review.

 

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The Second Request is a novella length work of fiction by author and blogger, C.E. Ayr. While it is indeed short, the length is not an indication of the quality of writing or the depth of the material.  It is packed with topics that will make the Reader think and even cheer on!

From the very beginning we are hooked when we read that during a loud explosion on a remote secret military base in Scotland, all of the children on the base disappear. Although they were being watched and there is no explicable way they could have left the buildings they were in, they’re gone! There is no explanation. They seem to have vanished as they appear not to be any place.

In short order we find the children returning to the base and shortly afterwards, a Doctor Merman appears.  He is responsible for the return of the children and has come to the base to make two requests of the Commander.  The first request is somewhat troubling and difficult for the Commander to agree to. Then comes the second request!

Although I don’t usually read works set in the future, this one captivated me from the first page. As I read, I was impressed by the clarity of the writing and the range of controversial subjects discussed.  I found The Second Request to be not only entertaining but also thought provoking.  I hope you will, too. You may want to check out his other book, Sound Byte Fiction: Medville Matters.

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I just finished reading a book that got me to want to do some research on perfumes. The book, The Perfume Collector by Katherine Tessaro, was surprisingly good.

It’s the story of two women, Eva and Grace. Their stories are told in alternate chapters, Eva’s in the 1920’s and Grace’s in the 1950’s. Grace, a young London wife is in an unhappy marriage. Her husband has become very materialistic and status conscious. After Grace suffers a miscarriage that leaves her unable to have children, her husband, Roger, won’t go near her. He works late and often stays at his club and finds reasons to travel away from home alone. They don’t even sleep in the same bedroom anymore. Grace discovers he is having an affair and on the same day, she gets a telegram telling her that she has inherited property and stocks in Paris. Although she doesn’t know anyone in Paris and does not recognize the name of her benefactor, Eva D’Orsey, she needs to get away from London and so she agrees to go to Paris to meet with the attorney.

We meet Eva when she is 14 years old. Her uncle takes her to work in the hotel where he works in New York City and she gets a job as a maid. Little by little, we get to know her and grow with her as she meets a variety of guests at the hotel. We then follow her as she leaves the hotel and ends up in Europe.

Grace learns of the inheritance and is determined not to accept it until she finds out who Eva D’Orsey was and why she left her as sole beneficiary. She is an orphan, her father having died of a heart attack and her mother in the blitz during WWII. There is no one to ask about Eva D’Orsey. She finds small clues and goes off, with Monsieu Tissou the attorney. Little by little she learns the truth.

Along the way, we learn about the nature of scent and the process of making perfumes. Tessaro even uses real people who were involved in perfumeries in Paris in the 20’s. That’s what led me to want to research perfumes and the successful perfume creators of Paris in the period in which the novel takes place. It’s really very fascinating, at least to me.

Favorite quote from the book: “But if you’re going to get paid to swallow, my dear, you’d better learn not to choke!”

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