Thursday, May 18, 2017

Riches & Rags by Camille Nagasaki

4.5 Star

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 ├╝ber supportive—albeit dysfunctional—family in tow.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

An easy read with a bit of a twist on the usual rags to riches story this novel got my attention fairly early into the read. Lane is presented at first as a spoilt rich wife who neglects her children by leaving them to be raised entirely by the hired help.  I didn't care for her much of course but it didn't take long for her circumstances to change and her heart to catch up with her. She took on her challenges with minimal fanfare and I liked her attitude. Yes it was a 180 from the start but when we're given her back story it's not surprising that common sense and purpose became her norm again. I wish we had had a bit more of her history. What we were given was enough to fill in the blanks but I was missing some of the relationship with her mother.  

The best friend/cousin role was solid. I loved him and I loved their bond, it's not a common close relationship so that was refreshing.  By contrast her girlfriend, that ends up helping out with the kids, came a bit out of nowhere for me, where was she at the start of the story? 

The admiral was darling- I just loved him and his role in the novel. He was just the kind of tough love she needed and everyone should be so lucky to have a soul like that around to keep us straight.  I was also thrilled by her dad and her "stepbrother", that was ridiculous and hilarious! 

There is a love interest and he's perfect of course but he added to the plot for me and didn't control it. I really enjoyed this read, it's different enough to feel like I read something new.

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

Connect with Camille Nagasaki:
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

5 Star

Young PR star Rose Reed is thrown into the big leagues when her boss leaves town the day of the firm's meeting with Archie Fox, a young, hot, internationally famous British singer-songwriter. The meeting is going badly until Rose suggests a staged romance with up-and-coming, young indie star Raya. He'll do it, but only if Rose becomes his publicist. 

As the faux-mance begins to rehabilitate Archie's faltering career, Rose finds his herself having unexpected, inconvenient and definitely unprofessional feelings for the crooner. But do late night texts and impromptu burrito binges mean he feels the same? In the end, Rose will have to decide whether to let her fantasy crush go, or to risk her reputation to be with the charming, handsome, scoundrel-y but sweet pop star she's grown to love. 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Chick lit at it's finest! I am so glad this duo teamed up to write books and am looking forward to many more collaborations.

Rose Reed was a lovable main character who reminded me a lot of many young women that I know, including myself at that age. Maybe I was not reminded of myself because of the career path she found herself on, but because of the utter messes she found herself in, including at work and with love.

This story was a very compulsive read - I certainly did not want to put it down! I loved how the short chapters kept me intrigued and reading forward, hoping that everything would turn out in the end, and wondering how it would. I could not help but want Rose to succeed, in work and in love both especially since they were intertwined in her case!

A feel good love story, I could see this book easily being made into a movie and one that I would love to see. I am sure that I am not alone in loving just how happy this book made me and how it made me relive my younger days in my mind.

Being set in NYC, which is one of my favorite places, also gives the book extra points in my opinion.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini:

Katie:    Website    Twitter     Goodreads
Arianna:   Website     Twitter    Goodreads

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stranded...with Romalyn Tilghman

Please welcome Romalyn Tilghman, author of To The Stars Through Difficulties as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Romalyn:

Romalyn Tilghman is a freelance writer and consultant in arts management. She earned BA and MS degrees from the University of Kansas and has studied writing through UCLA’s Writers Program. To the Stars through Difficulties is her first novel, inspired by her work as Executive Director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas, and then as Regional Representative for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, she has consulted with private foundations, government agencies, and performing arts groups, and served on national boards and panels. She lives in Southern California. Find her online on her website or FaceBook.

Connect with Romalyn:

Romalyn Tilghman Stranded on a Desert Island

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

A Day in Provence. I waited out Hurricane Iniki in a hotel ballroom and envied the man sitting in a beach chair, deep in its pages, as winds pounded outside and chandeliers swung from the ceiling. He was in a sunnier place, full of colorful flowers and delectable tastes.

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

Jo Malone‘s orange blossom body cream, so luscious in texture as well as fragrance. I buy it to celebrate, the way another woman might buy champagne, meaning my most wonderful saleswoman is now a dear friend who’s shared my life’s highest points.

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

A case of water. It’s the most essential thing, right? And my knitting, with a LOT of multi-colored yarn.

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

I could take the solitude. I love solitude. The forced fact of it might drive me crazy. Funny how solitude can become claustrophobic if there are no options.

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

The world’s best lover, most interesting storyteller, and Eagle Scout able to purify water, wrestle snakes, and build a fire without matches. Fantasy Man.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

No cellphone?! Even with an extra battery pack?! I live on my phone: email, Sudoku, Facebook, texts with an interesting guy, google everything from how strippers make tassels go in opposite directions to the historical significance of Purim. With Audible, I could listen to every book ever recorded; with Netflix, I could binge Grace and Frankie; with Mapquest, I could make my way off that island. Oh yes, with a phone, I might also be able to call for help.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

McConnell’s double peanut butter chip ice cream. Which I no longer allow myself to eat.

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

Two, maybe three if I knew help was on its way.  But we survive, right? I’d expect to sink into my imagination, think up happy endings, endure the endless wait.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Take a long hot bath! To wash away fear, sorrow, and frustration as well as island dust. To make a fresh start!

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

Miss me? I’m alive, safe at home. But my, do I have a story to tell you…

To The Stars Through Difficulties

Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century―but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women's baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father's hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town―Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado. 

The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future. Full of Kansas history―from pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains―To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The lost daughter of liverpool by Pam Howes

5 Star

Can she save herself, her marriage – and her daughter? 
It’s 1946 and the war is over. In Liverpool, the blackout blinds may be coming down, but one family is about to face devastating misfortune… 

Dora Evans is finally marrying the love of her life, Joe Rodgers, and her dreams of opening a dressmaking business look as if they might come true. With twin daughters on the way, Dora has everything she’s ever wanted.  

But then tragedy strikes: one of Dora’s babies dies in infancy, and a catastrophic fire changes their lives forever. Dora is consumed with grief, struggling to get through each day and Joe is suddenly distant, finding solace in his colleague, Ivy.  

With Ivy watching and scheming, and Dora battling against her own demons, can she keep her family together? 

Kathryn - 5 Star

This book reminded me of an author I haven't read in awhile called Pamela Evans who mainly focused her stories in London. I liked the Liverpool focus as I have a family link to the city. Though the era of the novel is post world War two I still felt the same warmth of the people of the area that I have when I visit today.  

I actually was surprised that though the story has a gentleness in its telling there are is an underlying agenda regarding postpartum depression. I was surprised by this tact and the author did a wonderful job of exploring the issues while remaining in the time period. Dora was very lucky I should think to have an empathetic doctor who recognised that her recovery would be best accomplished with people who loved her rather than in an institution- which was the norm at the time. 

I was really impressed with the way the characters were all described, their lives explored and developed before the depression which arrived after birth.  Dora’s sewing business was also well placed for the time period and the social standing of the family- it was quite fascinating to see her determination to make her own business work. 

There’s a lot more to this novel than you would expect and I certainly don’t want to give anything away but I will say that I’m very keen to find out what happens the next parts of the trilogy!

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

Connect with Pam Howes:
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My not so perfect life by Sophie Kinsella

4.5 Star

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway? 

Kathryn- 4.5 Star

Truly this novel delivers what you would expect from Sophie Kinsella: loads of laughs and cringe-worthy moments with the emotion sitting right there for the taking.  

My not so perfect life has 20-something Katie desperately trying to make her life as fantastic as her social media accounts are portraying.  Our current society seems to have us vying for the best life and Katie has fallen into that trap. At the heart of it all though Katie is just trying to attain the career she really wants.  She’s put herself through school, moved to London and is still living like a student trying to get herself in the door of a branding company so she can start her career.  She’s determined, resourceful and full of intensity and I would imagine she represents many a 20 year old currently trying to use their education to get a good job in their own field.  I was rooting for her and had so much empathy for her.

Katie’s nightmare of a boss, while thoroughly amusing for the plot, turned out to be much more in depth a character than I was anticipating. Kinsella gave her a backstory and a future and we were given a lot of detail about her life.  While I wanted to hate her I couldn’t continue the charade once I knew more about her.  She represents women who are trying to balance career, motherhood and being a wife which I related to myself on a few levels. 

With these two women navigating their jobs and lives there are also some wonderful side-characters- Katie’s father and stepmother for example whose farm came alive and added a nice change of pace to the plot.  I really felt relaxed during those parts of the book when we were glamping in the British countryside!   The one thing I felt was missing was a confidante for Katie (apart from her parents because she is quite determined to shelter them from her truth).  Not having that one friend though only served to highlight how much we can add fictitious sparkle and glitter to our lives when we’re only relating to others online and how much in person relationships really do matter.

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

Connect with Sophie Kinsella:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

4.5 Star

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I entered this story laughing out loud (but trying not to) with poor Zoe stuck in her attic when her cat accidentally closes the trap door to the exit.  The image stuck with me throughout the novel as a part of Zoe’s personality. She is forced to assess her life and the fact that she’s lonely just by this small event and it propels her on a journey to change her daily and long-term existence.  She’s tired of working from home, not having a partner and becoming more distant from her friends who are moving on.

While Zoe’s journey is fairly straightforward (barring exes who won’t go away, a slightly out-there father and a tricky new love interest) but this first scene really made me like her.  Zoe’s quest to balance her life forces her to try and get back into the life of her best friend.  Jen has a baby now and has become more than obsessed with him. At first you want to shake her and make her see sense but it soon becomes apparent that there is more to her focus, there are more difficult issues for Jen to deal with that are causing her fixate on her son.  

Meanwhile Zoe reconnects with Jen’s mother and finds in her a maternal figure that she is missing after her own mother’s death.  It hasn’t been long since Zoe’s mother passed and one of the things she’s searching for is a person to rely on.  The connection between Zoe and Pam is so sweet and I was really pleased for Zoe to find someone who could help her gently on her voyage.  However, their friendship adds complications to the bond between Jen and Zoe and Jen and her mother.  To make matters more complicated Zoe finds herself very much attracted to Pam’s son (Jen’s brother) and Pam ends up dating Zoe’s father.  Confused?  Yes, the novel is tangled, however none of it is complicated when you’re reading it!  All seems to slot perfectly into place in the end and the title, A Millions Little Things, seems fitting when you’re putting all these relationships together.

I really enjoyed the novel, there are some important issues addressed with Jen and some self-assessments that made me think with all the other characters.  A great read!

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

Connect with Susan Mallery:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

4 Star

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark... 

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I am not typically a person who enjoys historical fiction, but sometimes when it is more modern, it can appeal to me. This book was one of the most enjoyable books of that genre that I have read. That may have been in part due to the fact that it alternated between modern and war time, telling the story of several war brides. 

I found it quite interesting how the author used ghosts and the paranormal in her book. At first I was not entirely sure why or what it added to the story but by the end of it, it all made complete sense and everything was brought together.

I truly adored the different love stories that this book spoke about. Especially since they were all so different but all showed great resilience and dedication! It was also eye opening about some of the things that people had to go through during wartime just to survive. Everyone's story was unique and touching in their own way and a few things happened that I was not at all expecting.

This was a great book, full of emotion and a bit of intrigue but very much realistic and down to earth, even with the paranormal factor. I enjoyed this book a lot and read it quite quickly.

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

Connect with Susan Meissner:
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