Monday, December 11, 2017

That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

5 Star

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she’s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri’s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Surfing has always been a sport that appeals to me. Now, I can't swim very well and I would probably never try it but I love watching it. The sheer power of nature coupled with such athleticism has long been fascinating to me so this story about Mafuri had me hooked from the beginning.

The best thing about this novel was how unique it was. I am not sure if there are any other novels about surfing but there are surely none that are quite like Mafuri and her story which had all kinds of unique characters and took us on a wild ride around the planet vacillating from past and present and we even foray into the future.

Mafuri is all kinds of bold and strong but has things in her past that are making her hesitant and weaker. This story focuses on her journey to come to terms with certain things and the renewal of her strength. Between her own fears and dealing with her father's issues, we get to see just how strong this young woman is and how she is able to accomplish her journey to the Olympics, which is her ultimate goal. 

A story about inner strength and overcoming obstacles, this was a compelling read even if I didn't understand all of the sports terms or analogies. The book was powerful enough to capture my attention and keep me vested in it.

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

Connect with Michael Mazza:
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

4 Star

Here is a gorgeous, slowburning story of families growing up and tearing each other apart in rural Northern Ontario, where tragedy and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. 

Centre stage are the Morrisons whose tragedy is insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt's protegee, her curious fascination for pond-life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope, but seems blind to the tragedy of her own emotional life. She thinks she's outgrown her family, who were once her entire world - but she can't seem to outgrow her childhood or lighten the weight of their mutual past.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I was loaned this novel to read on holiday and I was fascinated from the first pages.  Initially I was inspired by the fact that it was set in my own country and that adult Kate was about my age.  That's where the similarities ended as she was raised in northern Ontario amongst farmland and a bustling communit-centered life. 

I was emotionally invested in the Morrison family so deeply that I cried for the children when tragedy struck them all and yet I was impressed by their quiet resilience, their focus on family and their support of one another.  Their life was both tragic and rich with the bonds that tied them.

While the Morrisons are blessed with a sense of family bond there are other families in the town that are plagued with histories that seem to be doomed to repeat themselves. Their lives are entwined with the Pyes not only in Kate’s own lifetime but throughout history and added a huge amount to the overall scene. 

The novel is mainly centered around Kate as she narrates the story and I found her a bit cold if truth be told.  I suppose her rearing was unconventional and her losses were many but as she was also so close with brother Matt I found it unnatural that she would be so aloof.  I had a very hard time relating to her as an adult and was frustrated by her relationship with her boyfriend. There is a huge gap of time between her childhood (which is explored deeply) and the woman in her 40’s.  I wish we had been given more about the intervening years to show us how she ended up so much more guarded as despite her great loss I would have expected the warmth she began life with to follow through a more into her adulthood.  
Crow Lake is an interesting read and I enjoyed it for it's exploration of family dynamics.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Mary Lawson:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

3 Star

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . 

Kathryn - 3 Star

A classic story of the love that you wish you hadn't lost- this novel is based on Jane Austen's Persuasion.  I don't have a full head of details on that anymore so I'm going to assume that this somewhat follows that plot with a modern twist!

Certainly set in the now, Ruby seems to be quite stressed about seeing her ex Ethan at her little sister's wedding in the England.  Her angst would seem over the top except that she chose to end their relationship a decade ago and appears to have regretted it ever since.  It's also slightly intimidating for her that he's now a hugely successful entrepreneur known all over the world.  Her sister's over the top wedding is nothing compared to her feeling about seeing Ethan again.  

Their meeting on his side is civil but lacking warmth which makes Ruby even more unsure.  
They move through the pre wedding hoopla with caution but there are many distractions in the form of twenty something ladies with brilliant careers that are interested in Ethan and a charming doctor Ruby meets while out running.  But they are clearly still circling each other like sharks!

Though this novel won't surprise you I was still charmed by the families and the backstory between Ruby and Ethan. I enjoyed the wedding setting and the interactions with the other guests and family. The story was simple and sweet, definitely a fun read.

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

Connect with Melissa Pimentel:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Mother like Mine by Kate Hewitt

4 Star

Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiance's unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town's beach cafe. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future--and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past. 

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother's life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Kathryn - 4 Star

This book took me through so many emotions from empathy to frustration but ultimately I felt joy.  The bond between Laura and Abby was tragically broken at the start and though I mostly bonded with Abby I was also surprised that I liked Laura's voice and wanted to know how they had ended up in this situation.  

I wasn't too sure about the grandmother's voice (the only mother Abby had known). While I applauded her raising of her grandchild there was also something tough about her that I felt needed some softening. Throughout the story we find out why she's a bit guarded but I still didn't get the typical "grandma" persona others have felt.

Their story is complicated and it takes a long while to unravel their shared past but I admired Laura's persistence in trying to forge a new relationship with her daughter.  Her attempts, though sometimes clumsy, appeared to be sincere.  It certainly made me ponder how else she could have tried to reach Abby and also made me wonder how she stayed away so long.  Abby's son is actually the force that really seals mother and daughter.  I enjoyed the village life throughout the book too, the villagers, friends and acquaintances rounded out the novel well and I was entirely absorbed throughout- a great tale of family and tragedy.

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

Connect with Kate Hewitt:
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett

5 Star

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit...

Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive. 

Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be... 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have usually not been a big fan of futuristic, dystopian novels but lately the offerings of this type have been amazing and this book is one of the reasons I can say that. It seemed like it was a story that was more accessible to the masses; what I mean by that is that it was not focused on a sci-fi theme (although fans of that genre would most likely enjoy this book as well).

The story is about Jamie, a survivor of a virus that killed most of the universe's population and her search for home. Having left earth ages ago to start over, she must now decide if she will return there to find others and a way to survive.

This story seemed quite realistic to me. I have often wondered what would happen if something serious started wiping out humanity, whether it be illness or something else. This book made the idea more realistic which was something scary but it also provided hope.

I loved the cover and I loved the content. Thought provoking and emotionally charged, The Space Between Us is a book I won't soon forget.

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

Connect with Anne Corlett:
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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 Star

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Kathryn - 5 Star

A completely absorbing read that kept me on my toes from start to finish. I actually kept checking to see how many more pages were left to make sure I wasn't almost finished!  I am really a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid and as her novels become more and more diverse she'll amass an even larger fan base as you never quite know what she'll tackle next.

Firstly I couldn't believe this woman could indeed have seven husbands but as we followed her life from teenager to senior citizen it made a lot more sense! An exuberant character, Evelyn is exactly what you'd want from an actress whose popularity spanned decades. What made the novel though were the relationships she formed with friends and lovers throughout her life.  She respected others and in turn earned the respect and loyalty of some very special people.  It's also interesting that we were given a taste into the process of becoming an actor, the hoops to jump through, the horrific pitfalls of sexuality and it's "expectations".  It's a timely novel. I wonder if it will reinforce the voice of women?  I hope so, with all my heart. 

The plot and development are fast paced and Evelyn moves around a lot and changes her life frequently so the reader is always kept on their toes. I liked that the author covered so many types of love and that each was explored with respect.  I hope this book makes into many hands and others enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Taylor Jenkins Reid:


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Name 3 Things with Alison Brodie

Please welcome Alison Brodie, author of Zenka, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!

About Alison:

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. 

Alison Brodie is an international best-selling author.  Her books having been published in hardback and paperback by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).

Alison has now gone “indie”. 

Connect with Alison:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Alison Brodie on Name 3 things:

Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

In your fridge

A half drunk Guinness (the Guinness isn’t drunk.  I mean, I drank half of the bottle)

An over-ripe pear (that’s the genteel way of saying a pear that is so bruised it looks as if it’s been flung around the room in a game of dodge-ball).

A cheap, roasted pork slab which has been bought for doggo but I’ve been stealing bits off it (I have no lunch!) and doggo has been watching me balefully with a “That’s mine” look.

In your purse

You don’t want to know!  But I’ll tell you:  

A brocade-covered diary with slim gold pencil.  

An invitation to Her Majesty’s Garden Party.  

A tracking device issued by MI5.  

(Ha!  You will never know what’s inside my handbag!)

In/On your bedside table



And more books

In your car


Writing pad.  

Maps.  (I have a boring car)
On your desk/writing spot

Hand spinner.  

Cup of Lapsong Souchong tea.  

A Noddy pencil sharpener.

In the "junk drawer"

Keys!  Hundreds of them.  I never knew I had so many.  I think they are breeding.

A Girl Guide whistle (??)

A compass.

In your closet/garage/storage room

A red feather boa – never worn

Gold stiletto shoes with v. high heels – never worn

Grey, baggy knickers – worn all the time

In your music or movie collection

Fats Domino, His Greatest Hits

Max Bygraves, SingaLongaWarYears!  (??)  (That must be my mother-in-laws)

Maria Muldaur  (that must be Hubby’s)

On your bookshelf

You are not going to believe this but it is true.  A glass bottle in the most beautiful shade of blue with the words TASCHENFLASCHE FUR HUSTENDE.  I bought this for one euro in a house sale, got home and checked it up on the internet.  It was used in tuberculosis sanitoriums in the 1930s for ladies to spit into.

A line of tiny wind-up toys.  I get them out at dinner parties when everyone is drunk.  There’s a prize for the one whose toy gets to the finish line first.  Everyone becomes alarmingly competitive!  What my guests don’t know is … the rabbit only does somersaults, the seal-lion keeps falling on his face, the penguin waddles and the fireman goes round in circle.  I’ll tell you the secret if you ever come to dinner:  it’s the elephant that always wins. 

“Dining With The Duchess” by Sarah, The Duchess of York and Weight Watchers.  This is a signed edition (I used to know someone who was friends with her).  And there are recipes for “Supper After a Horseback Ride”, “A Working Mother’s Lunch” (working mother?) and Apres-Ski Lunch.


Ruthless, devious, and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knives and shotguns.

Jack discovers he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she will turn Nicholas into the son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a mob boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is? 

Available at:


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