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BBC: ‘Career of Evil’.

Greetings from Harlingen, Texas! I flew in last night and am heading back to Austin in a few hours. I’m writing this from the airport, which smells like a giant toilet, so there’s that (no offense, Rio Grande Valley).

I have MUCH to discuss about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith. So, let’s not waste any time!

“Career of Evil” is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series and it’s also the final one that’s published. Because of this, I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, waiting for the perfect time to read it, because I just didn’t want to accept that this series would be over.

But, as I was reading chapter three, I got distracted and did some Googling. Turns out, J.K. Rowling (“Galbraith” is her pen name for this series) had recently announced the title for the fourth book! Although there is no publishing date, fans anticipate it will be soon. She also said she had ideas for 6 MORE books!

This news made it much easier for me to fly right through this book. I absolutely love these! My favorite thing about them is how visual the writing is – I feel like I’m put right in with the characters and can almost hear their voices.

If that doesn’t sound psychotic enough for you, I even bought myself some cranberry-orange scones and made tea while I read. There’s nothing quite like pretending you’re in London attempting to solve the case with a private detective and his secretary! Before I get in too deep, here’s the official description of the book, from Amazon:

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that this one definitely had a more personal twist to it, which I enjoyed. Here we are, in book three, and I am still wondering if anything will ever happen between Robin and Strike (whom I imagine to look like Gerard Butler)?! I was more emotionally invested in this book, and it made me that much more thankful that we’ve got a fourth one on the way.

At least a year ago, BBC announced there would be a TV series based on these books but then I never heard much about it. Upon further investigation, it looks like we’ll be able to watch the series (which is based on all three books) this summer on Showtime – YES!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Vanderbeekers of 41st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. I’m actually about to go read some of it now…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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BBC: ‘The Silkworm’.

That’s right, it’s another installment of Blanche’s (non-committal) Book Club! Over the weekend, I finished reading “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s pen name), and wow was it a great read!

“The Silkworm” is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series; where there are currently three books. I would definitely not complain if Galbraith cranks out a few more.

The funny thing about reading “The Silkworm” is… I read it on my phone. Le sigh. You see, I purchased it on my iPad through the Nook app, and when my Ipad was stolen over the holidays, I was most sad about losing my eBooks. So, I was thrilled to find them once I downloaded the app on my phone.

I haven’t brought myself to buy a new iPad yet, and I really couldn’t wait to read it, so… I read the whole thing on my phone. Now, if you know J.K. Rowling, it should not come as a surprise that the Cormoran Strike novels are also very detailed and lengthy. It was interesting to plow through it on my phone – it had its pros (being able to read pretty much anywhere) and its cons (reading about one paragraph before having to turn the page and getting distracted by texts and snaps).

But I did it! And, fun fact, J.K. Rowling wrote “Harry Potter” while riding the subway to work… so there’s some motivation for you.

Ok, so “The Silkworm”! From the official website:

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

While I did say this book was detailed, it wasn’t too detailed, if you know what I mean. I’ve read books before that were just packed with so many pointless details, and it got old really quick. Of course, given that this is a crime/detective novel, the details are pretty necessary.

Could this be Cormoran?

Could this be Cormoran?

I love the details about the scenes, too. It’s very London-esque with its gray skies full of rain and snow; and several cozy scenes in pubs, right in the middle of the day. Sounds quite perfect, if you ask me!

Another perfect part about this book series? I totally picture Strike as Gerard Butler, with a little more scruff and incredibly pissed off 24/7.

Word is that the book series will also be a series for the BBC, and possibly HBO – if we’re lucky! I’d love to see this adapted to the screen, big or small.

The interesting thing about the plot of “The Silkworm” is that it focuses around the publishing world – a place familiar to Galbraith/Rowling. I will say, I thoroughly enjoyed the world she created in book one, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” given that it was full of celebrities, rich folk, and illuminati. Obsessed.

The world in “The Silkworm” is dark, made up of has-beens and could-bes, but in general it’s a sad world of characters; with the added murder in question.

If you read “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that we get a closer look at Cormoran’s assistant, Robin, and it’s obvious she’s not going anywhere come book three. There’s also a good look at her relationship… and *SPOILER* she is still not married at the end of this book. Could there be a shot with her and Strike? Wink, wink!

And finally, I’ll also say that there are some really fantastic, suspenseful scenes in this book! Especially at the end, I was flipping those digital pages as fast as my fingers would allow.

This book is definitely worth a read; and if you haven’t started the series at all – you’ve got to get in on this! To read a full review of “The Silkworm”, check out this one from The New York Times.

The next book we’ll be reading in Blanche’s Book Club is “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty. I actually have three of her books, and this will be my first one to read. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

BBC: the birthday edition!

Ba-da-da-da-da!!!! Today is kitty Blanche’s 3rd birthday, so naturally, Blanche and I are sleeping off our raging hangovers (she’s 21 in cat years now, y’all).

No, actually, I’m at work and Blanche gets to stay at home, living the life of luxury all day. Lucky duck! To celebrate, Blanche got a special helping of soft food for breakfast. I gave her a gift early, because I just couldn’t wait: a bright yellow stool from IKEA so she can sit on it and watch birds all day.

Blanche's lookout point.

Blanche’s lookout point.

If the point hasn’t been made clear, I’m a total, loud and proud #CatLady – even though I only have one cat. Everything about my life pretty much revolves around my cat, and I’m fine with it. The funny thing about the stool is that, for some odd reason, I let Blanche BORROW my desk stool to sit at the window and bird watch.

But it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t getting it back. So, I bought her one for herself and took back my original desk stool. I may or may not decorate hers with colorful paints and or glitter. We’ll see. She also got a “smartycat” from my friend, which is one of those motion toys that’s really going to get the party started.

Being that Blanche’s birthday is today, I’ve been thinking a lot about our short time together so far. The truth is, Blanche has been the wildest kitty I’ve had as of yet. She’s got long, crazy hair, sharp claws (and teeth), and a very sassy attitude. But, this pretty kitty came into my life when I was dating an emotionally abusive alcoholic. She was there for many nights when I cried myself to sleep, and when he tried to break into my apartment.

She’s been with me through unemployment, retail life, late nights, and of course, our move to Austin (and she was silent a majority of the 7-hour drive). Blanche was a shelter kitty and was discovered with her mom and siblings in the attic of a school in Baton Rouge. In a way, we saved each other. That’s a cat that deserves some spoiling, amiright? Probably not, but we’re rolling with it. So, Happy Birthday to my wild-eyed, beautiful kitty, Blanche Devereaux!

Before I forget, if you entered the contest yesterday, you won! Congrats to Samantha and my mom, Anna! You should expect an email from Green Chef (sent yesterday).

So, that brings us to BBC, Blanche’s Book Club! We’ve finished reading book #2 for the club, and it’s a real success with the whopping two members on board (one of them being Blanche). But, it’s not a popularity contest. So, our latest read was “The Lair, The Bitch and the Wardrobe” by Allie Kingsley.

From the back of the book:

If you’re going to step on people on your way to the top, you might as well do it in stilettos . . .

. . . Or so she’s been told. Lucy Butler, former wallflower, lands her dream job working for her idol, world-famous fashion photographer Stefano Lepres. But in a world where getting doused in coffee for not getting the order right is the new normal, she isn’t getting any closer to her ideal of being behind the camera herself. Then a superstar actress generously takes Lucy under her wing and teaches her the ways of the rich and famous—treating her to racks of designer clothes and introducing her to a life of private planes and penthouse suites. Soon Lucy is dating a rock star, attending the hottest Hollywood parties, and dressing the part.

Lost in the luxury, she loses sight of the things that once mattered most. It’s going to take a hard blow from the high life to send Lucy back to the real life she always wanted.

 I know it’s kind of early in the year to say this, but this would be a great pool/beach read. It’s lite, sexy, glamorous, edgy, and in parts, laugh-out-loud funny. I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters before I really got into this book, but after that, I pretty much finished it in one sitting.

It’s got mixed reviews on Good Reads, but has some interesting books linked with it in the whole “Other readers enjoyed…” including “The Big Bang” by Linda Joffe Hull (think: Desperate Housewives), “At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Diastrous Quest for the Sweet Life” is Jennifer Criswell (memoir: moving from NYC to Tuscany), and “Lucy Gets Her Life Back” by Stef Ann Holm (single mom, super drama).

While I’m fairly certain this is Kingley’s only book of her own, she’s worked in the fashion industry for many years, and worked with Nikki Hilton to publish her book – pretty cool. Plus, she’s got gorgeous red hair, and who doesn’t love a red head?

The next book BBC will be reading is “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith, the second book in the Cormoran Strike Series. If you want to contribute to the discussion, leave a comment, email me at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, Snap me or DM me @OrangeJulius7 or whatever you have to do. Or, you can send me a book title to read, but I’m not making any promises, folks. It’s the non-committal book club you’ve always dreamed of!

And what that, I’m signing off until Monday! Prep yourselves for an amazing week of blogs starting right here, on Monday. Muah!

Reading list (#goals).

I’ve been reading the same book for, like, seven months. And it’s not a thick book, it’s an easy, fun read. I’ve just only looked at it about twice.

And why? Let me explain that I used to read ALL. THE. TIME. There were years, not long ago, where I read 25 books a year. As a writer, I feel it is my job to keep up with other writers. And, when I was learning to write, a great writer once told me that in order to BE a great writer, you must read great writing.

So, I’ve read a ton of books. But there’s a ton more out there I want to read. It’s not that I don’t want to read. I blame my lack of reading on last year, when I was constantly (and I do mean constantly) working to make ends meet.

But this year is different! So, I’m ready to finish reading that book I started last year (The Liar, The Bitch, and The Wardrobe by Allie Kingsley), and start (and finish) a bunch of others.

I’ve had this goal in mind for awhile because, like I said, I really do love reading. I also love curling up on my couch, getting lost in a great book. It’s the perfect escape and I’m ready to get back to it. I even got a few bookstore gift cards for Christmas, so I’ve already started my stockpile.

You may recall that last year, I treated myself to two books: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. Well, I still haven’t read them, so those are still on my list (it’s sad, I know).

But, here are some others I’m hoping to read this year:

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

In the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to founding one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly?  Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Legends of the Chelsea Hotel by Ed Hamilton

In a series of linked cyanide capsules, Legends of the Chelsea Hotel tells the odd, funny, and often tragic truth of the writers, artists, and musicians; the famous and the obscure alike; who have fallen prey to the Chelsea.

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner’s talent shines like never before in this collection of short stories, following the tender, often hilarious, progress of love and relationships over the course of a lifetime. The Guy Not Taken demonstrates Weiner’s amazing ability to create characters who “feel like they could be your best friend” (Janet Maslin) and to find hope and humor, longing and love in the hidden corners of our common experiences.

What books are you reading right now, or looking forward to reading this year? I’d love to add to my list!

Pic of the Week.

So, it’s only been officially summer for… what… a week? But now that July 4 is right around the corner, I all of the sudden feel like the summer is about to end! Summers in my previous life — when I had a desk job that allowed for free weekends — meant hours at the pool, reading.

In those days, I’d load up a cooler, put on my swimsuit, and walk to my apartment complex’s pool from about 10 am until the sun went down. I went through 1-2 books a week, and over the course of the year, I’d read around 30 books.

It was one (of many) luxuries I took for granted.

In these last 8 months, I haven’t had mush time to read, so I’ve been stuck reading Donna Tartt’s, “The Goldfinch,” — which is very good, but also, very long.

But, like many businesses, freelance writing gigs slow down a little in the summer. And while that means less money, it also means less work, and more free time. So, I’ve decided to pick up my old habits, and although I haven’t spent hours at the pool, I’ve cracked open “The Goldfinch,” and can at least see the ending is near.

I also took a look at my reading list. There are books in my apartment I’ve yet to read — books I’ve borrowed, books given to me, and books from Santa. And in my email was also a Christmas gift remaining from my mom: a Barnes and Noble gift card!

So, I used the gift card to treat myself to two books I hope to read before the summer sun sets: The Husband’s Secret by Lynne Moriarty and The Silkworm by Roberth Galbraith (J.K. Rowling).

Here’s what the back of “The Husband’s Secret says, “At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.”

And here’s the info on “The Silkworm” from the back of the book, “

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days–as he has done before–and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…
A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, THE SILKWORM is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant, Robin Ellacott.”
So… they both sound mysteriously AWESOME! I’m hoping my two new purchases will force me to make some time for myself to read, even if it’s just 30 minutes each day. What are you reading this summer?