Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

4 Star

After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can't wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband's crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 
Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 
Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn't as painful as it should've been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time's the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love? 
As their bonds of friendship deepen against the beautiful backdrop of Mischief Bay, Gabby, Hayley and Nicole will rely on good food, good wine and especially each other to navigate life's toughest changes.

Kathryn - 4 Star

The Friends We Keep was a slow starter for me because there were lot of characters with a lot of things happening at once. It took me a bit of time to link them together and warm to them individually.  But warm to them I did - and once I was hooked I had a hard time putting the book down.

The three women were going through completely different problems and I found myself relating to each one though I have not had experiences exactly like any of them. Hayley was in such a heart-breaking position with infertility and she and her husband had been through so much that they were not seeing each other’s needs anymore. Her fixation and his exhaustion made for some both tender and crushing moments.

Gabby’s desperation to become herself again was very clear and though she was aware she’d been lucky in her life she still wanted something more now that her daughters were at school.  Her step-daughter’s wrench in the plans was unpredicted for me and I was stuck not knowing what I’d do- I could understand Gabby’s chaos.  Her husband’s reaction also was a surprise and I liked that mountain they were given to climb- I wasn’t sure how it would end.

I liked Nicole a lot because of her strength and determination. She was also emotionally invested in her son for all the right reasons and she wanted to give him everything and yet I felt she was aware of everything he also gave her. I was surprised also a few times about the route her story took.

The Friends We Keep kept me on my toes and each woman’s perspective gave me things to think about- I enjoyed the novel immensely.
Thank you to Mira/Harper Collins for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Susan Mallery:
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Since She Went Away by David J. Bell

5 Star

Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.

The only piece of evidence is a lone diamond earring found where Celia and Jenna were planning to meet, leading the national media to dub Celia “The Diamond Mom.” And even though Jenna has obsessively surfed message boards devoted to missing persons cases, she is no closer to finding any answers—or easing her guilt.

But when her son’s new girlfriend—who suddenly arrived in town without a past—disappears, a stricken Jenna begins to unwind the tangled truth behind Celia’s tragedy. And as long-buried secrets finally come to light, she discovers how completely lives can be shattered by a few simple lies.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have long loved this genre of book and this book was one of my favorites of this year. A twisting story that was impossible to figure out until the final denouement, I was gripped from the beginning and raced through the book trying to figure things out.

The story of Jenna and Celia's friendship is woven throughout the story of Celia's disappearance and at many times I thought I might know what had happened but then the story would go off in another direction. 

To add to the intrigue, Jenna's son has a girlfriend who also disappears and more questions arise. More and more things begin happening and with the story being told through alternating perspectives, the story quickly gains traction. The story kept getting more and more confusing until the very end when the ultimate reveal made everything make sense and in a very satisfying way.

I loved this book and the fact that it was impossible to figure out. I almost want to go back and read it again right away to experience it all over again. David Bell was not an author that I had previously heard about but I am very much intrigued to read something by him again.

Thank you to Berkley Publising Group for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with David J. Bell:
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Would you rather....with Camille Nagasaki

Please welcome Camille Nagasaki, author of Riches & Rags.

Camille Nagasaki:


Camille Nagasaki is a Toronto-born Canadian author, film/TV actress, and entrepreneur. 
Having always had a tremendous fascination with the written word, Camille became an avid reader at a young age and has written creatively and for business for many years.
 After leaving the corporate world to be home with her kids, Camille earned a professional designation in her field, launched a new business, and began a three-year labour of love writing Riches & Rags. 
Camille lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children. Riches & Rags is her first novel.​

Connect with Camille:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads

Would You Rather... 
with Camille Nagasaki

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate, preferably Belgian milk chocolate and lots of it!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Becky Bloomwood.

Wine, beer or vodka?


Camping or spa vacation?


Water or mountains?


Zombies or vampires?

Eek. Neither! (okay, vampires)

Dogs or cats?

Hmm. Dogs. Maybe? We have a Pomeranian who is pretty cat-like. So, I’d say Pomeranian.

Coke or Pepsi?

Water please.

Coffee or tea?


Dine out or take away?

Dine out (an excuse to dress up and celebrate).

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

High heels. Not that I really wear them much anymore with two kids and a puppy zipping around. Plus, they hurt. Ouch! (But I still love them)

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical. Nothing beats a book.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Hmm. Hardcover, I guess.

Pen or pencil?

Depends on the mood.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?


Drama or comedy?

Comedic drama!

Twilight or Hunger Games?


Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick (lipgloss is too sticky and chapstick is b.o.r.i.n.g.)

Facebook or Twiter?


Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?

A combination but if I had to choose, fly by the seat of your pants.

Riches & Rags

Lane Carson is used to getting her own way—apart from throwing hissy fits and pulling outrageous stunts to attract her workaholic husband’s attention, Lane lives a seemingly perfect life. But things are seldom as they seem…
Lane is blindsided and her charmed and pampered existence uprooted, when her shattered husband, Micky Capello, breaks the devastating news: he’s lost the family fortune and is leaving on a quest to “find himself.” The most daunting part is they’re losing the nannies—and the children Lane barely knows will live with her.
Without the leisure to wallow in misery and self-pity, Lane is catapulted into an adventure of a lifetime that’s filled with outlandish and often emotionally charged escapades of trial and error, all with her über supportive—albeit dysfunctional—family in tow.
This comedic drama is bursting with outlandish hilarity and warmth, and is sure to keep you roaring with laughter, while tugging at your heart with its endearing, candid reflection. A must read!

Available at:

Amazon  Kindle 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

4 Star

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity. 

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living. 

Kathryn- 4 Star

I loved the history in this novel- I loved the descriptions of the clothing and the places they worked and lived. I loved the new freedoms beginning to come to women in the workplace during the period. 

There was something though about Maisie that I couldn’t warm too. Her persona was guarded and I found her a bit confusing.  She seemed to be half self-assured and also half-timid throughout much of the novel. While I understood that in her position she was bound to be nervous and worried that she would be found out to be not as “society” as they thought, I still found her private life to be much more reserved than I was expecting.  I think perhaps we were never given a full back story for her which made her seem distant. I would also have gathered a lot more about her from interactions with friends rather than simply the slow progressions of friendship we were given through her work.

There were a lot of historical players brought into the story and the author tried to keep the main facts properly placed in time during the novel. I didn’t know until the end what was based on fact and what wasn’t. Radio Girls was fast paced when required and slow when necessary and the plot was on point. I was also fascinated by the other workers at the BBC, the evolution of the Talks program as it began to take hold for the people of Britain, their interests and their desire for information coming out in the behind the scenes of the programmers of the novel. Hilda Matheson was a force of nature and all of her moments were inspiring.

I would have to conclude that the time period explored was what drew me most to Radio Girls and certainly it’s a subject I had not read anything about before this book.  Fascinating!

Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sarah-Jane Stratford:
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Katherine A.Sherbrooke Stranded on a Desert Island

Please welcome Katherine A.Sherbrooke, author of Fill the Sky, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Katherine:

Katherine Sherbrooke is the author of the forthcoming novel, Fill the Sky (SixOneSeven Books, October, 2016) and a family memoir, Finding Home (2011). An alumna of Dartmouth College and Stanford Business School, she wanted to be an author from the time she opened her first book, and lived on books like food and water for a long time. Somewhere along the line, though, she caught the start-up bug and co-founded a Boston based company called Circles. After that wonderful 15 year+ entrepreneurial adventure, she "remembered" her original dream and finally sat down to write. She lives outside Boston with her family.

Connect with Katherine:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Katherine A.Sherbrooke Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

An empty journal. Being alone with one’s thoughts is a rare gift.

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

An iPod with hi fidelity speakers. Music can change my mood in an instant.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

A great pillow. I can’t sleep well without one.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

If my family somehow knew that I was OK, I would revel in the solitude. Good things have always happened for me when I’ve given myself permission to sit and ponder without distraction.

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

Reese Witherspoon. I’m sure by the end of our adventure I could convince her to turn my book into a movie.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My kindle. The ability to upload and read a limitless number of books is something I’d find it hard to live without.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

A great Chardonnay. I rarely go to the beach without one.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

I could probably cope for ten days to two weeks. How long I could actually survive is another question entirely.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Call my family. Then have a big glass of said Chardonnay.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Fill the Sky

Tess Whitford’s world is thrown into turmoil when Ellie, her dearest friend, runs out of medical options and grabs onto the hope that traditional healers in Ecuador might save her from a terminal diagnosis. Tess is skeptical, but cannot deny a request that might be Ellie’s last. Together with Joline, whose spiritual work inspired the trip, they travel to the mountain village of Otavalo, where they are immersed in nature and introduced to strange, ancient traditions. After an ayahuasca ceremony goes awry, and an unlikely betrayal threatens their friendship, each woman faces her own deep need for healing. FILL THE SKY is a story about the complexity of friendship, the power of the spirit, and the quest to not simply fight death, but to shape an authentic life. 

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Barefoot Beach by Toby Devens

4.5 Star

For Nora Farrell, Tuckahoe, Maryland, isn’t just a summer refuge, it’s home—where she married the love of her life, decided to have a child, and has remained connected with her two closest friends. Even now, long after her husband’s passing, Nora reunites with Margo and Emine every June….

But this year, challenges invade the friends’ retreat. Even as Nora delights in teaching at her dance studio, she is shaken by the possible loss of her beach house…and by a tentative new romance. While Margo directs a musical at the Driftwood Playhouse, she finds her marriage on rocky ground. And Em, who relishes running her family’s café, struggles to handle her rebellious daughter.

With their personal dramas reaching a fever pitch, the women will discover that it isn’t only the beach that brightens their lives. Their bond with one another provides the ultimate magic.

Sabrina-Kate - 4.5 Star

This was the quintessential great beach read. I read this book at the tail end of summer while away for a few days and it was the perfect book to have brought along.

The story focuses on Nora, who has had her shares of ups and downs especially in the past 10 years. A younger widow, Nora is solely responsible for raising her son and maintaining their lifestyle after the unfortunate death of her husband. Definitely challenging at times and consuming for sure, this book was inspirational to me. It was good to read about a woman who was able to make things work despite all the challenges she faced.

Another huge part of the story was the relationships Nora has – with her close girlfriends, her son and her new love interest. I found the detailed interactions between all of these other supporting characters to be utterly realistic and essential to the story, as well as Nora herself. Her friends were a great support to her despite their own lives and challenges and I truly appreciated how the three of them stuck by each other and supported each other through everything. Her son was the most challenging relationship I felt that she had because he tended to manipulate her somewhat but I would account that to growing pains.

And then there was her new love interest. A very up and down relationship for much of the book, it certainly kept things interesting and I felt myself rooting for things to work out.

A great read that I flew through, I was very happy to have read this book and was not at all disappointed in the ending. Things came to a wonderful denouement which seemed natural and satisfying.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Toby Devens:
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

5 Star

Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Kathryn - 5 Star  

The characters in Jill Mansell’s novel are always recognisable as her own. She has a way of making you like them from the first few pages and then weaves multiple stories together to join their lives.  She also is wonderful at using similar situations we encounter in our own lives and bringing them together and makes them feel natural. I think I’ve read all of her novels.

I loved Hallie. She was strong minded, she was also encouraging and perceptive and every single woman in her 20’s. There were aspects of this particular Jill Mansell novel though that I haven’t encountered in others because Hallie has cystic fibrosis and is waiting for a transplant. The fact that she is imminently facing her own death added a deeper aspect to the story. It was also a great reminder to all of us about the importance of organ donation and the impact it can make on so many lives.

The other two story lines lead into Hallie’s through the concept of organ donation and each of the other stories was as well thought out and full of life as Hallie’s. The characters were all so likeable and relatable that despite Hallie’s charm I was equally engrossed by all three plots. I adored Tasha because of her straight shooting and her best friend was fantastic, her love interest was delightful and I warmed immensely to his best buddy. Certainly people I'd like to sit down and have dinner with. Flo was also endearing and her relationships with the people in the home she worked out were lovely.

The intricacies of the plot are hard not to give away but this novel is definitely a great story, one of Jill Mansell’s best.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Jill Mansell:
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