Monday, May 2, 2016

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn

5 Star

Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood. Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know who to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives. 




Kathryn - 5 Star

No Ordinary Life completely engrossed me from the start. I was immediately drawn to adorable Molly. (Cute as a button, you could picture her sprinkling her sweetness all over the place.)  I was also happy Suzanne Redfern initially introduced us to the characters in the town they came from because the novel rapidly moved to LA and a completely different existence.  In this case their original surroundings gave a good grounding for the people that they had been before their lives changed- without it I don’t think I would have found them so realistic nor empathised with them so much.

I’ve often wonder what kind of person it takes to live the life of a star like this? It seems like so much work, so much planning and then so much boredom. It’s also a false sense of reality for a child to grow up in this way- the adoration juxtaposed with the isolation.  One of the older actresses on the set quite clearly tries to warn Faye of the difficulties while still trying to show her it’s possible to have a good life.

The children were written really well, you could tell Redfern had given them as much thought as the adults in the novel. They behaved exactly as one would expect and even the budding relationships between the teens were perfectly enacted.

The one character I didn’t really understand was Sean. As the father of the children I never grasped if he was on their side of if he was simply out to get money?  His role in the novel seemed to be unfocussed and he behaved completely out of character than the man we were initially introduced to (who simply couldn’t cope with being a father) .

There are a good many people to follow throughout No Ordinary Life but they melded together and were all there for a reason. The story is perfectly executed and I was fully drawn in from the very start.


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

Connect with Suzanne Redfearn:
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kitty's Countryside Dream by Christie Barlow

4 Star

New home. New life. New beginning. Love affairs can blossom in the most unlikely places . . . 
When Kitty inherits Bluebell Lodge from her grandmother, a farm in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, it’s time for fresh air and a fresh start. Up to her elbows in chickens and ponies, Kitty soon realises there’s an awful lot to learn about farming. Still, at least the locals seem friendly, not least her handsome neighbour Tom… 

But just as Kitty is beginning to find her feet, and the possibility of love, the discovery of a long-hidden diary, by a mysterious character called Violet changes everything. Who is Violet and what is her message for Kitty? As Kitty fills in the lost pieces of her family jigsaw and discovers some shocking revelations, will her countryside dream and blossoming relationship fall to pieces? When it comes to life in the country, nothing is ever quite as it seems … 



Kathryn - 4 Star

I found this novel a little tricky for the first 20 or so pages. Not sure why but it was presented in a way that didn’t pull me in right off the bat. However, that was only at first because I soon got into the story and was so enamoured by the characters and their lives that I was hooked.

Something about Kitty though gave me the impression she was quite na├»ve and not very with the times initially but she soon morphed into someone else. It also wasn’t always clear if we were set in the 1980’s or 90’s or if it was supposed to be set today?  The dates in the diary would have led me to believe we were mid 80’s but some of the things that were said and done in the novel seemed much more current. Perhaps this was just me but I found it a bit confusing.

Having said all that I was very much interested in the story, there were mysteries to unravel and people to connect. The plot moved really well and didn’t leave anything unsettled! I loved the chicken farm and all aspects of the farming we were treated too during the novel and was enchanted by the village. I also liked the way her relationship with her parents was described and the way their story was weaved into the novel. I was surprised by the ending, had imagined various possible scenes but didn’t quite imagine the ending.

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

Connect with Christie Barlow:


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Would you rather with Susan Sands

Please welcome Susan Sands, author of Love, Alabama.

Susan Sands:

 

I grew up in Northwest Louisiana, but have strong Cajun roots (Southern Louisiana) on both sides of my family. I  live in the Atlanta suburbs with my dentist husband and near-adult children, plus a few furry creatures.


I love to cook and I adore food. I play tennis, but don’t exercise nearly enough. I write Southern romantic women’s fiction. It’s a rare day when I run short of words. I’m a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. I’m represented by Inkwell Management.

Connect with Susan:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Susan Sands

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Cheese and crackers and grapes.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones… I can’t wait for the new one!!

Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka and something sweet and fizzy if I had to choose. I’ve been plagued with nasty migraines for years, so I have to use much moderation with alcohol…bummer.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa now that I’m older. I hate bugs.

Water or mountains?

Water.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampires… Loved Bram Stoker’s version.

Dogs or cats?

Both!!

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke…I live in Atlanta.

Coffee or tea?

Sweet tea with lemon, please.

Dine out or take away?

Depends if I’ve showered.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Flip flops!

Physical Book or ebook?

Mostly ebook these days. I need a little backlight.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Twilight.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss or chapstick—depends if I’m going out of the house.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook!

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

Outlining pantser.

Love, Alabama

Emma Laroux’s a fallen Southern beauty queen whose past is barely whispered about in her small town. But the secrets and lies surrounding the scandal from long ago still haunt her, and something about Matthew Pope holds the answers. If only she could put her finger on it..

Matthew Pope wonders what awful karmic thing he’d done to land him in Podunk, Alabama. But when he sees Emma again after all this time, he knows he’s still the only one that holds the key to unlock the truth of her past…

Will a shared moment in time ten years ago threaten what might be the best thing that’s ever happen to either of them—each other?




Available at:

Kindle   Nook   Kobo


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Would you rather with Nora Zelevansky

 Please welcome Nora Zelevansky, author of Will you won't you want me?

Nora Zelevansky:

 

NORA ZELEVANSKY is the author of Will You Won't You Want Me? and Semi-Charmed Life. Her writing has appeared in ELLE, T Magazine (The New York Times), Town & Country, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among others. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.


Connect with Nora:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Nora Zelevansky

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chips. All salt, all the time.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones (or Elizabeth Bennet).

Wine, beer or vodka?

Beer. Preferably dark.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa, please. I have this weird affinity for beds and working bathrooms. Lavender-scented massages are good too.

Water or mountains?

Both. Water with mountains―like Big Sur.

Zombies or vampires?

Neither, please. No monsters.

Dogs or cats?

Cats. My cat, Waldo, specifically.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. A million times, Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Herbal tea. Cause I’m wild like that.

Dine out or take away?

Depends on the night. Is The Bachelor on in this scenario?

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

All three. But, in my heart of hearts, high heels.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book, if I can help it.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback, so I can throw it in my bag and read on the train.

Pen or pencil?

Pen. Indelibly.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey, for glimpses of Mary Crawley’s wardrobe alone.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy, with a little drama.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games. I love a makeover and a badass girl.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss of any shade but peach.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook. The better for cyberstalking ― I mean, keeping up with friends.

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

Definitely the seat of my pants. I find outlines constraining. Write with abandon!


Will you won't you want me?

Marjorie Plum isn't your average washed up prom queen. After all, her New York City prep school was too cool for a royal court. Yet, ten years after high school graduation, she is undeniably stuck in the past and aching for that metaphorical tiara.
But when her life takes an unexpected turn, she is forced to start over, moving in to a tiny box of an apartment in Brooklyn with a musician roommate who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama. Desperate to pay rent, she starts tutoring a precocious 11-year-old girl-who becomes the unknowing Ghost of Marjorie Past, beginning a surprise-filled journey towards adulthood, where she learns about herself from the most unlikely sources: a rekindled childhood love, a grumpy (but strangely adorable) new boss, even her tutee.



Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Nook Kobo 


Mom on the Road by Allyson Ochs Primack

3.5 Star

Shortly after she turned forty, Maggie Stevens took an unexpected journey that changed the course of her life. She didn't decide to visit all of the Earth's rain forests or spend months roaming through the African desert. It was not for scientific research nor was it for purposes of investigative journalism. Maggie’s journey took place in the most unlikely of places: on a bus with a bunch of actors. Think "Almost Famous," except instead of a teenage boy, it was a pre-pre-menopausal mom of three. Forced to face all of her fears on the road, Maggie must figure out how to get back the one thing she lost many years ago: herself.





Sabrina-Kate - 3.5 Star

Though this story was not quite what I was expecting, I did enjoy getting an insider's view of life on the road with a star as their mother. Though this is a work of fiction, the fact that the writer did just that is obviously apparent in the book with all of the detail they are able to provide. 

The book was a little slow at first but I liked how the main character went through her life relating it it to popular culture, whether it be with a song or a show. This helped me to relate to the character and her life.

I liked how the story built up through each decade of her life and then culminated with his life as a mom. The anecdotes of adulthood and being a mother certainly added to the story though the story was not quite what I had expected. I am not sure being on the road with kids would be so enjoyable. Even short trips have their trials so I am not sure I bought the whole story.

Despite my misgivings, this is a fun tale that I think could be an enjoyable road trip read.


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


Connect with Allyson Ochs Primack:






Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Love the witch, hate the craft by Nora Lee

2.5 Star

When Rowan Middlebrook left Secret Hallow for college, she swore she would never return home. Her magic is too dangerous for her to control. 

But Nana Winterblossom has asked for Rowan’s help saving The Elder Tree. If it dies, there can be no magic in Secret Hallow at all. Rowan's family has cared for the coven for generations. She has no choice but to help, even though she'll have to resist the urge to embrace her witchy heritage. 

As soon as Rowan returns, she meets the new warlock in Secret Hallow: Caedmon McFarland, who thinks he’s going to take over the coven by marrying Rowan, despite the fact they’ve never met before. Between dodging arranged marriage and trying to save The Elder Tree, Rowan is remembering how much she loved being a witch among her coven - if only she could find a little control. 

After all, you can take the witch out of the magic, but you can't take the magic out of the witch.


Kathryn - 2.5 Star

I can see myself getting into this series but I did find this first installment a bit difficult. It was initially tricky to sort out the various magical abilities. Much like any fantasy series there were new terms and new characters that don’t only relate to each other but have additional powers that you need to keep straight.  

I wish the novel had been longer because there were a number of members whom I felt didn’t get enough background information for me to feel their link to Rowan.  Though Rowan was well described and you got a good understanding for her, there were the Ash sisters for example that I was a bit confused about. Are they Rowan’s sisters?  They seemed to behave as if they were but they didn’t have much link to her within the novel? 

I was also confused by Rowan’s relationship with Orianna- we were given the impression that they were really close but they hadn’t communicated in the four years Rowan left to go to college outside of the village?  That was tricky for me because the female characters should have an established bond which I didn’t feel until the end of this novel.  I was also taken aback by the assumption that Rowan should marry a complete stranger to save the village- he was in himself a bizarre character- his personality flip-flopped from completely unpleasant to mildly endearing but I loved Garrett immensely- I think if you don’t then you must have missed something.  He seemed like he could be Rowan’s dream man.

Overall I found the novel interesting but felt something was missing to make me fall in love. I would likely read the next one in the series (should it be offered) though as I’m curious about what happens next. I think it could have used more time and more in depth setting of the scene to really get my attention.


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

Connect with Nora Lee:
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

2.5 Star

First I remember the darkness.
Then I remember the blood.
I don’t know where my daughter is.
Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital after being found near dead at the bottom of a ravine with a fragmented memory and a vague sense of loss. Then a terrifying reality sets in: her daughter is missing.
Days earlier, Estelle discovered her baby’s crib empty in their Brooklyn apartment. There was no sign of a break-in, but all traces of seven-month-old Mia had disappeared. Her diapers, her clothes, her bottles—all gone. 
Frustrated and unable to explain her daughter’s disappearance, Estelle begins a desperate search. But when the lack of evidence casts doubt on her story, Estelle becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of the police and the media.
As hope of reuniting with Mia becomes all she has left, Estelle will do anything to find answers: What has she done to her baby? And what has someone else done to her?




Michelle - 2.5 Star

After reading the first 50-60 pages I was not sure I would end up finishing this book.  It started off slow and the picture it painted was not one that drew me in and left me wanting to know more.  
It is clear early on that Estelle Paradise is suffering from some form of postpartum depression. The images of Mia being left alone and crying most of the time does not help in evoking any sympathy from me toward Estelle.  Her husband Jack is even less likable, being portrayed as an unsympathetic and unsupportive husband.  

After Estelle becomes the number one suspect in her daughter’s disappearance, and her subsequent confinement to a psychiatric hospital, my interest peaked a bit and my need to find out whether she truly did kill her child, or if she even ever existed, increased.   

I will say that this novel really did have me guessing for much of the time.  It was at times hard to follow as it jumped back and forth between the past and the present, but I did enjoy how information was slowly revealed to us through Estelle’s sessions with her psychiatrist. 

The climax and ending were definitely not what I had expected and I appreciate what the author was trying to do in terms of shock value and surprise, but at the same time I felt it was a bit far-fetched and I had trouble believing parts of it. 

I still cannot say with any definite conviction whether I enjoyed this book or not.  At times it compelled it me to want to read more and other times I felt I was dragging through to get to a more interesting part.


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

Connect with Alexandra Burt:
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