Sunday, March 1, 2015

Would You Rather with Caroline Fardig

Please welcome Caroline Fardig, author of That Old Black Magic.

CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline is currently hard at work churning out more novels in the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Connect with Caroline:

Would You Rather with Caroline Fardig

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

CHOCOLATE!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Becky Bloomwood.  I totally get her.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Yes, please.

Camping or spa vacation?

Definitely a spa vacation.  I live in the woods, and sometimes the bugs and critters try to get in my house.  I can’t imagine willingly sleeping on their turf.

Water or mountains?

Water.  Hilton Head, SC is my favorite spot.  Hawaii’s not bad either.

Zombies or vampires?

Zombies, unless you’re talking old school vampires like “The Lost Boys” and “Buffy”.  I don’t go for sparkly, angsty vampires.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs!  My cat is the devil.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.  Although I’ve for the most part given up soft drinks, Coke is still my weakness.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee.  I make my own “White Monkey” latte every morning.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out.  I HATE doing dishes.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Definitely flip flops.  Even when it’s too cold for flip flops.

Physical Book or ebook?

I’m still on the fence, but I’m leaning toward ebook because it’s so handy to be able to read on your phone.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback

Pen or pencil?

Pen, but really I’d rather type most things.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

You know, I don’t watch any of those shows, but I’d probably be most likely to watch “Breaking Bad”.  It’s the closest to my favorite—cop shows!

Drama or comedy?

Always comedy, preferably R-rated so it’s actually funny.  If it’s an Oscar flick, I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t like it.  My sense of humor never matured after junior high.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games.  I was rooting for the bad vampires in Twilight.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Sugar Apple lipstick from Aveda, but mainly because it’s attached to the case holding my foundation, therefore easy to find in my gigantic purse.  Otherwise, I like sparkly, flavored lipgloss.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook.  Most of my friends are too old for Twitter.

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

I write a much better story when I plot it out, but most of the time I can’t wait to get to writing, so I start flying.  The story never ends up where I plot it, anyway.



That Old Black Magic


Lizzie Hart is back—snooping, lying, and chick-fighting to uncover the truth, hoping not to break any hearts along the way…especially her own.
That Old Black Magic…will it put Lizzie under its spell?
Lizzie Hart hoped her first day back at work after nearly being killed would be uneventful.  No such luck.  Before she can finish her morning coffee, Lizzie and her co-workers find a dead body on the rooftop of their office.  Media vultures that they are, the Liberty Chronicle employees are psyched to have first-hand news to report.  Lizzie, however, is devastated when she realizes that the victim is her ex-boyfriend’s brother.
When evidence begins piling up against one of Lizzie’s friends, she reluctantly dons her detective hat once again, determined to find the real killer.  She’s not thrilled about chasing another psychopath around, but she’ll do anything for a friend.  Lizzie’s love life is rapidly becoming a hot mess, too.  Her latest attempt at sleuthing isn’t leaving much time for her budding romance with town hunk Blake Morgan.  Add that to the fact she’s hiding a secret so big it could rock the very core of their relationship, it’s no wonder that Lizzie’s in a tizzy. 


Poor Lizzie ends up juggling a murder investigation, a wacky Wiccan coven, and two men vying for her attention—all while nursing injuries left over from the last time she decided to play Nancy Drew.  It’s a good thing she always has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Nook



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dunaway's Crossing by Nancy Brandon

4 Star

One Georgia town paralyzed by disease, Two women secluded in a remote cabin. Only one man stands between them and death. It's 1918 when newlywed Bea Dot Ferguson leaves her posh Savannah lifestyle to visit her pregnant cousin's home in rural Pineview, Georgia. Her purpose: to escape her abusive husband, who knows her shameful secret. Immediately, Bea Dot realizes she's traded one perilous situation for another as Pineview is infected with deadly Spanish influenza. Only with the help of Great War veteran Will Dunaway can Bea Dot fight for survival, not against a cruel husband, but against the deadliest virus the world has ever known.



Kathryn- 4 Star

I was drawn to the synopsis of Dunaway's Crossing and it was just as intriguing as I'd been hoping. The author put the characters on the page with authenticity and I was drawn in right from the start.

The very first pages were immediately dramatic and I felt Bea Dot's strength and presence from the first lines of the novel. She is married to a horrific human being and despite knowing this she's not sure how to get away from the situation. Her housekeeper and aunt are also aware of her predicament and somehow manage to get her an exit pass which takes her away from him, at least temporarily. 

She is sent to another town to help her cousin Nettie during the confinement prior to birth. I had hoped that Bea Dot and Nettie would be friends but it seemed that their history was fraught with tension and despite being forced to work together they didn't really like each other much and were wary of each other. Forced to be together and isolated because of the influenza outbreak eventually made them come to respect each other, I think. Unfortunately things didn't work out well for everyone and although I can appreciate that that was the reality of the times I was still disappointed for them as a family.

The best part of the novel for me was the attention to detail by the author. There were many instances of historical tidbits such as the indoor bathtub Bea Dot had at her home with her husband which were in contrast to the rural way she and Nettie were living at the crossing. This bathroom must have been the height of luxury at the time. I also relished all the details about Will's shop and his camaraderie with the neighbours. 

Dunaway's Crossing was somewhat predictable as a romance but I greatly enjoyed reading it and on the whole there was enough history to draw me in.


Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Nancy Brandon:
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Mahalas Lane by Marianne Cushing

3 Star

Exhausted and dismayed, Madi Lyons arrives on the rocky shores of Maine, hoping for a relaxing respite from Madison Avenue’s relentless grind. Twelve-hour days and the sudden news of her best friend’s engagement have the aspiring creative director’s head spinning. Shortly after settling in at the quaint rental cottage, she is awoken by the local sheriff with startling news: A woman has been murdered on her private beach. A violent encounter next door and an elusive stranger draw Madi deeper into Mahalas Lane’s mysterious past, while a magnetic attraction propels her into the sheriff’s welcoming arms. Will she find the solace she seeks, or will a small town’s dark secrets cost her the ultimate sacrifice—the love of her life?





Sabrina-Kate  - 3 Star

Mahalas Lane is a debut novel from Marianne Cushing and I really enjoyed her description of Maine as it truly brought it to life. I could definitely tell that Cushing was very well acquainted with the area and I would even dare say that she loves it. The descriptions were vivid and I felt like I could almost smell the salt air!

Mahalas Lane was a pretty short read so even though the story flowed fairly well, it did feel to me like the plot was a bit rushed. There were also things that I didn't quite buy into... Like if Madi was a virtual stranger in the community, why would she be so involved in the investigation of a murder? Especially since she was by no means a law enforcement professional?

I also was someone disinterested in the murder story involving a love story. I just don't see how it could be possible. If someone sees something traumatic or is involved in any way, I would think that your mind is upset and stressed and not particularly thinking about romance. I would have liked the author to focus on one aspect or the other.

Mahalas Lane was well written despite the fact that I didn't like the story itself so I am interested in seeing what Marianne Cushing comes up with next.


Thank you to the author for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Marianne Cushing:
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore

4 Star

There’s nothing Holly Winterlake loves more than Christmas and skating, so working as an Ice Marshall at London's Somerset House is a dream come true.

Noel Summerford hates the festive season and is a disaster on the ice, so taking his godson to Somerset House is his idea of the nightmare before Christmas!

Things are bound to get interesting when these two collide…

With a forty foot Christmas tree, an assortment of well meaning friends and relatives, and a mad chocolate Labrador, will this festive season be one to remember … or forget?




Kathryn- 4 Star

Skating at Somerset House is an adorable seasonal novella. That may make it sound trite but I actually was really pleased with the depth of character that Nikki Moore managed to get across in so few pages.

Holly is a Christmas super-fan and Noel is most certainly not. They are an unlikely pair but then I’ve heard somewhere that opposites do attract? I was enchanted by Noel's interactions with his god-son Jasper and loved that the child was so interested in skating. (I did notice though that at 4 years old he was already missing some baby teeth which seemed a bit young?  Must have been an oversight or an over-achieving child? But that was the only thing that didn't ring quite right for me.)

Holly and Noel's relationship naturally evolved over the couple of days the novel covered. Moore also managed to incorporate some other characters that were entertaining. I was enveloped by the love of Holly's parents. They were fun and supportive but didn't take themselves too seriously despite their concern for Holly's injury. I also quite liked Jasper's dad but felt like there was much more of a story there we didn't get the full picture on. I also noticed mention of another child that wasn't given any time in this novella, she could perhaps have been left out?

Skating at Somerset House was packed full of holiday joy and, though predictable, it was exactly what you want from something so sweet. I'm intrigued by the author's abilities and am looking forward to her next novel or novella.


Thank you to Harper Collins UK for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Nikki Moore:
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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

5 Star

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. 

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.


Kathryn - 5 Star

I can describe this novel as nothing else but intense.  I honestly thought I’d previously read a novel by Hannah before and so asked for this one for review thinking I knew what I was getting myself into. But having trolled through my books-read list I actually can’t find this author’s name anywhere so it turns out this is my first contact with Kristin Hannah.  

I could not put this novel down.  At first I was just intrigued by the snippets of history of occupied France during WWII and was drawn into the relationship between the two sisters and their estranged father. I was lulled into complacency and was quite enjoying the book….and then all of a sudden I was reading with my stomach in knots and tears rolling down my face.  It was almost too much and I would have probably put it down for a day or two except that I was desperate to finish it and read something more lighthearted on Christmas Eve.  I honestly sat in tears for the last third of the story.  There was something about Viann’s earnest attempts to try and stay below the radar that touched me. While I can see her being criticized for not doing more during the first half of the war I could also completely relate to wanting to lay low in the hopes of protecting her child.  There’s nothing more tangible in this book than the need to protect your children- from Viann to Rachel and even to Viann and Isabelle’s father.  

There were very few things I could say brought me joy in this book except for the relationships of the people. I was so relieved to finally learn more about the father- the fact that he wasn’t completely lost and was working in his own way. I was overjoyed that Isabelle and Viann were able to say they loved each other face to face.  The children were inspiring with their tiny lives being so tenuous.

This is a wonderfully expressive novel and there are a multitude of different layers to uncover but the horror of the truth of WWII is there in earnest.  If you are left unmoved by this story then I would be shocked and disappointed.

Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kristin Hannah:



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Accept this Dandelion by Brooke Williams

3.5 Star

Renee Lockhart has her eye on a lofty goal…to fill the open position of morning radio show host on a nearby secular station. When her co-workers sign her up for a local TV version of “the Bachelor,” Renee goes along with it in order to raise her profile. Ben McConnell, one of the most eligible bachelors in town, insists that Renee be placed on the show, despite her bumbling audition. Ben gets much more than he expected in Renee. He gets a girl who doesn’t bow to his every whim…and a girl who opens his eyes to true, unexpected love. Enjoy a local version of the popular "Bachelor" TV show...where nothing can go right for Renee!



3.5 Star - Kaley

First off, you should know that I love watching The Bachelor. It's my one guilty pleasure and my girlfriends and I get together every week to watch it. We make fun of it but we're also invested in the twisted "romantic" journey the man or woman in question is going on. So, of course I was so excited to read Brooke Williams' Accept This Dandelion, a novel that put its own spin on the popular show.

I did struggle with how the novel was written...and that's why I couldn't quite give it four stars. It's a short novel, which I think worked really well with the story, but it also made it quite noticeable when certain words or phrases were used (I lost count of the number of times "shuddered" came up). There were also a few scenes at the start of the book that I found to be pretty much the exact same. For example, the first couple of scenes featuring Ben had him thinking about Renee and how she intrigued him. One of the scenes, at least, needed to be cut because it was so repetitive. I also found, especially at the beginning, that there was a lot of telling. There were a lot of internal thoughts and, for the most part, the only dialogue really comes from Renee and Ben when they're are on the show together. This all meant that I was bored at the start and just wanted to show to get going.

But, even having said all of that, I was totally invested in Renee and Ben's story. I liked them both, they were layered and interesting characters. I was rooting for them and hoped that whatever struggle or misunderstanding popped up near the end of the book wouldn't derail them completely.

I really appreciated that Renee was focused on her career as well. It wasn't just about the love story, which made the novel more interesting. But my big question is: where the heck did Claudia go? She  was who Renee wanted to replace on the morning show and Williams never mentioned, at least that I noticed, what happened to Claudia!

I also liked how Williams portrayed her version of The Bachelor. It was just as cheesy as you'd expect but it was nice to be able to see the real side of the bachelor and bachelorettes (to a certain extent anyway, you really only get to know Renee and Eva). The dates were fun and I liked that Ben broke the rules a little bit (isn't it always more exciting when they do that?).

Accept This Dandelion, as an overall story, did not disappoint. It was exactly what I expected and I really enjoyed reading about Renee and Ben. I feel that it needs some more editing tweaks but I still liked it and do not regret the time I spent reading it. If you're looking for a fun romance, pick up Brooke Williams' novel and enjoy!

Thank you to Rock Star Lit for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Brooke Williams:



Friday, February 20, 2015

New Uses For Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick

3 Star

After growing up in privilege and marrying into money, Lila Alders has gotten used to the good life. But when her happily-ever-after implodes, Lila must return to Black Dog Bay, the tiny seaside town where she grew up. She’s desperate for a safe haven, but everything has changed over the past ten years. Her family’s fortune is gone—and her mother is in total denial. It’s up to Lila to take care of everything...but she can barely take care of herself.

The former golden girl of Black Dog Bay struggles to reinvent herself by opening a vintage clothing boutique. But even as Lila finds new purpose for outdated dresses and tries to reunite with her ex, she realizes that sometimes it’s too late for old dreams. She’s lost everything she thought she needed but found something—someone—she desperately wants. A boy she hardly noticed has grown up into a man she can’t forget...and a second chance has never felt so much like first love. 




Kathryn- 3 Star

New Uses for Old Boyfriends was fun and though somewhat predictable I still enjoyed it! There was something endearing about Lila and her relationship with her mother. Full of improbable characters and situations, I read this one quickly. 

Most of the story revolves around trying to save the family home and while I found Lila's mother frustrating at times she played her part well and did eventually pull herself out of the muck and get her head on straight. The source of the possible funds comes from mountains of couture her mother has been saving since her days as a model. I liked that we were given a bit of fashion history through the story- just enough for my unfashionable brain to handle. 

There were a cast of quirky characters to help Lila and her mother move into the future and I loved that the romantic aspects of the novel were not entirely predictable. Lila's love interest in the end was a great fit and I adored his multiple personality facets- definitely not your typical leading man. 

The small town lead itself to people getting into each other's business so to open a shop meant a lot of interference and opinion from others but I liked that aspect of the story. My reservations came from the fact that there may have been a few too many people involved that didn't get a conclusion of their story. The older sisters for example, who donated some garments to the store could have given much more humour to the story and the ladies in the bar could also have been made more of I think. I sometimes got a bit confused as to who was who and while the main characters were very well outlined, the sub characters were sometimes only half defined. 

I enjoyed the book though and it was definitely a fun, flirty read. (And I loved the title!)


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

Connect with Beth Kendrick:
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