Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

4 Star

The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I loved One Plus One (the last Jojo Moyes novel I read) so much that I was thrilled to grab this earlier book of hers. I was a bit surprised that although it was an equally wonderful story, it took me some time to adapt to the different style, period and pace- I had been drawn into One Plus One from the first page.

Moyes’ writing  was just as good but The Ship of Brides was more difficult to get stuck in to. There were a number of different characters and I definitely found it a bit tricky to keep them straight. I almost wish that we'd been introduced to each person once they were already on board the ship because that may have shortened up the start of the novel which caused me once to wonder if I should keep reading. I’m very, very glad I did though because I suddenly realized one day that I’d sorted everyone out and had become engrossed. I read the second half in a quarter of the time it took me to read the first half.

Once their stories melded together I got a much better sense of each of the women and who they were. Maggie was the most likeable character and yet she had her fair share of difficulties both before and after the crossing. I was genuinely happy for her ending. Moyes also made me empathetic towards the other main characters and developed a good idea of the different class system struggles when people were thrown together in one small room

The best part for me was when all the women's stories had been finally told. I wished there had been more about their lives after arriving in England but all in all the whole novel opened my eyes to a number of aspects of wartime. The Ship of Brides was great, if a little drawn out on occasion.

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

Connect with JoJo Moyes:
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stranded on a Desert Island.....with Bette Lee Crosby

Please welcome Bette Lee Crosby, author of Passing Through Perfect, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction and in the process of writing Passing through Perfect, she drew heavily on this heritage to create a story that is painfully true in describing the small Southern towns as they actually were. 

“In the South of the 1940’s and 50’s segregation was simply viewed as a way of life,” Crosby says. “Separate but equal, they said and they saw no injustice in it. The truth is it was separate, but it certainly wasn’t equal.”

Crosby’s work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. Since then, she has gone on to win another seventeen literary awards, including the Royal Palm Literary Award, The Reviewer’s Choice Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal and the Reader’s Favorite International Book Award Gold Medal.

Connect with Bette:
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Bette Lee Crosby Stranded on a Desert Island

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

Although it is not one of the books on my top ten favorites, I would choose The Night Circus because it is the type of book I could read twenty times and find something new to like each time.

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

A fully loaded iPod. At least I could dance to the music.

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

A toothbrush…maybe one with a squeezable toothpaste filled handle – if there is such a thing.

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

Enjoy the solitude, I’d be scratching out a new story on the side of a large rock.

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

Although it may sound a bit corny, I’d like it to be my hubby. Although we are married we both work and never get enough time to spend together.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

Wi-Fi. When I travel I ask if the hotel has Wi-Fi before I ask if there’s a bed in the room.

What food or beverage would you miss the most? 

Wine, because it can make a bad day better.

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

Five, if there is fresh water on the island. If not, one. I’m not a foodie, but definitely a big water drinker.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued? 

Publish the book I’ve scratched out on the stone or go for a manicure because of all that stone scratching.

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

I’m baaaaack!”

Passing Through Perfect

It's 1946. The war is over. Millions of American soldiers are coming home and Benjamin Church is one of them. After four years of being away he thought things in Alabama would have changed, but they haven't. Grinder's Corner is as it's always been--a hardscrabble burp in the road. It's not much, but it's home.

When Benjamin attends a harvest festival in Twin Pines, he catches sight of Delia. Before their first dance ends, he knows for certain she's the one. They fall madly in love: happily, impatiently, imprudently, in love. It doesn't matter that her daddy is staunchly opposed to the thought of his daughter marrying a cotton farmer, never mind a poor one.

It's true Benjamin has little to offer; he's a sharecropper who will spend his whole life sweating and slaving to do little more than put food on the table. But that's how things are in Alabama. Benjamin is better off than most; he has a wife, a boy he adores, and a house that doesn't leak rain. Yes, Benjamin considers himself a lucky man until the fateful night that changes everything. 

Available at:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Caught by Lisa Moore

3 Star

Caught begins with a prison break. Twenty-five-year-old David Slaney, locked up on charges of marijuana possession, has escaped his cell and sprinted to the highway. There, he is picked up by a friend of his sister’s and transported to a strip bar where he survives his first night on the run. But evading the cops isn’t his only objective; Slaney intends to track down his old partner, Hearn, and get back into the drug business. Along the way, Slaney’s fugitive journey across Canada rushes vibrantly to life as he visits an old flame and adopts numerous guises to outpace authorities: hitchhiker, houseguest, student, lover. When finally he reunites with Hearn just steps ahead of a detective hell-bent on making a high-profile arrest, their scheme sends Slaney to Mexico, Colombia, and back again on an epic quest fueled by luck, charm, and unbending conviction. 

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

Honestly I was not blown away by Caught and was quite surprised to hear that it is to be adapted into a CBC television show. Having previously enjoyed Lisa Moore's work I was utterly disappointed in this novel, sadly.

It really doesn't take me long to read a book especially if it is something I am enjoying but the fact that it took me about six months to slog my way through it should be some kind of indication as to what I thought about this novel.

I have to give Moore points for an original story and I did like the mostly Canadian setting, as with her past writing yet every chapter seemed somewhat interminable and I cannot quite figure out why.

Perhaps Caught was just not a book that appealed to me because the story itself was not my usual fare. I do know that a lot of others have enjoyed it so I would simply caution that it is not that fast paced.

Thank you to Grove Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lisa Moore:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

5 Star

With her hotly anticipated third installment, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget's life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous e-mail cc, total lack of Twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.  

 An uproariously funny novel of modern life, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a triumphant return of our favorite Everywoman.

Kathryn - 5 Star

Oh Bridget how I’ve missed you!  I think I’d resigned myself to Bridget Jones’ having found her man and her living happily ever after in fictional bliss but I am so very pleased she’s come back out of fantasy land to make me laugh again.  Now, you may have heard that there are some things about this installment that are not what you’d like.  But if you’re a fan of the original novels then you’ll be a fan of this one.

Bridget’s voice is exactly the same as it was years ago but she’s now a mother which added, for me, a new connection.  The mad way she approaches the chaos of small children made me laugh so hard I had to share it with my husband (who smiled and nodded at me like he was pacifying a toddler-useless man!).  I related to her complete love for them and utter frustration with them equally. And I think her approach to motherhood would have been the same with her partner present or not. Fielding did not deny the voice of Bridget even with her new circumstances and that says a lot about her writing skills, so many years later.   Bridget, dating at 50ish, with tweeting, Facebook and the errors that ensue is hysterical and still manages to fit into the diary-like format we already love.  Her boyfriend Roxster is lovely- just lovely (insert smiley face here!).

The cast of usual characters are mostly all present- utterly nuts and always supportive friends, including Daniel Cleaver who is apparently allowed to babysit???? 

I had a couple of little tiny issues. Firstly, I wished that her mother wasn’t so flaky.  Although she was always a bit hands off l I found her most frustrating in Mad About The Boy. Given that her daughter could really use some help at this juncture in her life, you’d think she would put aside her own agenda a smidgen and be a bit more of a hands-on grandma, no?  I didn’t care for the way her dating life turns out (but shall say no more) and I also had a bit of a hard time getting to grips with Bridget “the screen-writer”. I liked the idea of her being a writer but she seemed to manage to pull things together without much effort and produce a manuscript despite her masses of distractions.  I’ve been acquainted with a number of writers and I think it actual takes more time and commitment than Bridget seemed to give it.  So that was a bit off for me.  But it added to the madness of her life and Bridget is supposed to make us laugh and touch our hearts so I’ll push those niggles aside. 

At one point towards the middle of the book I sobbed and sobbed and not three pages later I was laughing again.  This is what makes Bridget Jones the ultimate chick lit classic and why we have missed her character so very much.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Helen Fielding:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Me Without You by Kelly Rimmer

5 Star

A year ago I met the love of my life. For two people who didn’t believe in love at first sight, we came pretty close.

Lilah MacDonald – beautiful, opinionated, stubborn and all kinds of wonderful in ways that words could never quite capture. The woman who taught me to live again. 

My Lilah, who gave me so much, and yet kept from me a secret that she knew would break my heart.

My name is Callum Roberts, and this is our story.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have to say that the title of Me Without You made me pause because it seemed like it was following a fad. I am happy that I gave it a chance because this was one of my top reads of this year. It had everything in it that I love about a good book and I am fairly sure that I can blame this incredible author on a very long next day since I could not and would not put this book down and stayed up extremely late one night to finish reading it.

Me Without You was a tear jerker yet made me feel so happy and hopeful despite the utter heartbreak I felt at the same time. This book was a stark reminder of the amazing power of human experience, and how emotions can take us from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and all in an instant.

A must read, I found myself thinking about how precious life truly is and how living every moment and cherishing them is so very important. 

Lilah and Callum felt like intimate friends of mine, so powerful was the development of the characters and their story. My heart literally ached as I identified so much with what they were going through despite never having been in that particular position myself.

Kelly Rimmer is definitely an author that I truly hope to read again, and in the near future.

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

Connect with Kelly Rimmer:
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Plan Overboard by Heather Wardell

3.5 Star

All Corinne has ever wanted was the role of clarinetist for the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra. The clarinet, and working to master it, is all she has left of her father, who abandoned the family when she was a little girl. But after failing to clinch an open spot in a heated audition, her life-plan soon goes overboard. Not only does she break up with her longtime boyfriend, Clay, she also makes a decision that will alter her destiny in ways she never imagined...

After a medical procedure and a couple of months of changing everything in her life, a pregnant Corinne meets Melissa and her gorgeous flirt of a brother-in-law, Austin, on a cruise. The heat of the Caribbean sun soon combines with a mutual attraction to create a sizzling connection neither Corinne nor Austin can deny. But when the truth comes out about Corinne's condition, will lifelong playboy Austin man up? Or will Corinne's hope for a future beyond a shipboard romance prove yet another PLAN OVERBOARD?

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

Plan Overboard follows one of the characters from Heather Wardell's previous novel All At Sea and although there are some people that reappear in this second book they can both be enjoyed as stand-alone novels quite happily. But having read both I was really happy to see the "evolution of Austin". I was like a proud parent realizing that he was starting to open up to the possibility of being the person he thought he was rather than the person everyone was telling him he was. 

I suppose that if you hadn't read All At Sea then Plan Overboard you would probably be about Corinne’s journey and not Austin's quite so much! Corinne’s character appealed to me and I was surprised by a number of things that came out of her exploration of the new relationship with Austin on board ship. She obviously also has a supportive brother and mother and Wardell made sure we knew about their close bonds and the reasons they were strong. Her career as a clarinetist also was quite intriguing in that we were given a good idea of the intensity of such a position and the struggle she obviously felt in giving it up.  I also liked that the author explored Corinne’s relationship with her absent father, his abandonment of the family directed Corinne’s life completely and it was heartbreaking for her to realize that that bond she had treasured was perhaps the figment of a little girl’s longing.

On occasion I felt a bit of frustration about the ease in which she took to motherhood, especially on her own but it seems like she gave herself to the role and had chosen it purposefully so her intent was to go at it with as much positivity and gusto as she could.

All in all Plan Overboard will give you hope in “the one that will never wed” and it's a positive story with a plethora of likeable characters.

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

Connect with Heather Wardell:
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

All At Sea by Heather Wardell

4 Star

Melissa and Owen met on New Years' Eve and he proposed on Valentine's Day. Now it's March, and they're about to set sail on a two-week Caribbean cruise - and get married on the last day at sea. Though their relationship's moving fast, Melissa's wanted to be married for years and she knows the smart stable Owen is a great catch so she's sure they'll be fine.

At least, she's sure until she meets his brothers on the cruise and discovers she's dated both of them: Austin, the fun-loving flirt whose kisses still haunt her dreams, and Nicholas, the sweet horror movie fan whose lack of ambition upset her in ways she still doesn't understand.

Melissa expected to spend tons of time onboard with her fiancé, but he instead spends nearly his every waking moment in the casino displaying a previously unseen love of gambling. This surprise, and the time she spends with Nicholas and with Austin, makes her question everything she thought she wanted.

Her relationship with Owen was just fine before, but suddenly 'just fine' doesn't seem good enough to keep a marriage alive for a lifetime. Melissa has two weeks to decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.

Kathryn - 4 Star

All at Sea is fun. I loved the setting on a cruise ship and was delighted to follow them around the boat to all the different restaurants and nooks and crannies you find in one of these giant vessels- it had a very authentic feel in that respect.

I also found myself rapidly attached to the characters and their various confusing relationships, there was so much going on there with Melissa and her three different men. Heather Wardell gave us just enough tension and back story to make it believable and I could feel the intensity with each one right off the page. I didn't much care for the husband to be, probably wasn't meant to like him much but I feel we could have been given a touch more to like because I really found it hard to see why Melissa was into him. In this novel though I felt the plot and development was as much about the other members of the wedding party as it was about Melissa and I didn't feel like anyone was left out. 

I became quite attached to Melissa’s friend and her husband (the only people she had invited to witness her wedding on the ship) and adored the support they showed their friend even though I'm sure they wanted to shake some sense into her a number of times. They clearly wanted to be the best friends they could be and put up with a lot more dithering than I might have done.  Clearly Owen’s primary focus was marriage because “it was time” and not because he felt Melissa would match his lifestyle and be a good partner. I wished the boys’ mother had been more invested in her children or even left out entirely. She didn't do much for me and I found her frustrating especially as she didn't really have a huge role in the plot except chief "funder" of the cruise. 

I think I would actually read All At Sea again, despite already knowing how it turns out! The characters at the end were well suited and I loved following them through to their destiny.

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

Connect with Heather Wardell:
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