Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Do You Know? by Meredith Schorr

5 Star

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn't look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary "break" from her live-in boyfriend results in a "break-up," Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn't always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.


Kathryn - 5 Star

I confess that I have been meaning to one of Meredith Schorr’s books for a long time and I wish I’d slotted one into the list before now because I really enjoyed her writing in this novel. How Do You Know? feels different than other romantic women’s fiction and I think that’s because there was a maturity in her characters and a depth I sometimes find lacking in other books. 

Maggie is approaching a birthday which scares the pants off her- she isn’t quite sure why the number is weighing so heavily on her mind but it’s enough to make her question the relationship she’s in and ask for a chance to see what else is out there.  I liked that at that early point in the novel Schorr doesn’t give us the entire picture of her relationship with her live-in boyfriend- we aren’t aware of the depth of their relationship or how they interact. I actually supported Maggie’s decision to see if she could find the passion she was seeking.  Throughout the rest of the story though we are slowly given more details about their lives together and I felt much empathy for Maggie, the boyfriend and their confusion.

Meredith Schorr’s novel is impactful and very funny- there are plenty of supporting roles that I grew attached to and none of them were superfluous to the story. Maggie’s friends and co-workers were key in her exploration but I think that she, herself, was the most important player in her voyage throughout the book.  I was so happy in the ending, it was perhaps expected by some but I was still unsure how it would all turn out- I like that about a book! 

How Do You Know was a great read. I am so glad I finally got to this author on my reading list and I’ll be keeping a watchful eye to see what comes up next.


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

Connect with Meredith Schorr:
Website      Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Lonely Hearts Club by Brenda Janowitz

4 Star

Jo Waldman lives life to her own soundtrack—working for her father by day while pursuing her music career in NYC’s downtown clubs at night. Music is her passion, along with her boyfriend, Jesse, who shares her dreams of making it big. Jo's old band, The Lonely Hearts Club, came thisclose to getting a huge recording contract, and she’s just biding her time, waiting for lightning to strike twice. The music business is tough, but so is Jo.

So when Jo's father fires her and Jesse breaks up with her, Jo doesn’t get upset—she just wants to rage. Dusting off her computer, and typing in the familiar address for the Lonely Hearts Club's old blog, Jo writes an entry, pouring her heart out about the shortcomings of love. Nobody visits the site anymore, so it's a safe place for Jo to vent. Except that the site sends a mass e-mail to the entire Lonely Hearts mailing list, notifying them that there's a fresh message on the site, so now everybody she's ever met knows that Jo has been brutally dumped. All Jo wants to do is hide under the covers, but to her surprise, supportive comments start flowing in—most from screen names she doesn't even recognize. Jo soon becomes an icon for all things “anti-love.”

There's only one problem: the web programmer helping Jo with her anti-love site is too damned cute! Jo's never been very good at depriving herself of anything, but if the budding relationship with her web programmer is exposed, she'll be revealed as a total fraud and risk losing all of the people who have grown to love and trust her. So is it time to start singing love songs, or time to pick up the guitar and return to the hard rock that almost got The Lonely Hearts signed in the first place? Jo's got some big decisions to make, and it looks like she's going to have to take one step closer to doing something she never thought she'd do--becoming a grownup. 


Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

The Lonely Hearts Club is a great light read, meant for anyone who loves a good romantic story with some dramatic flair. The main character, Jo, is tough as nails and means business in everything she does. Not willing to accept less than what she wants, she is a kick-ass kind of girl who makes you want to be more rock and roll, like her.

The book was definitely appealing because I could see how you could get swept along in a wave of reactions. Upset and raging, due to getting fired and getting dumped, Jo turns her reactions into actions. With great success she develops a following.

This was a great "I can feel where you are coming from" type story that made me love it and love the characters because I have been there without having been in the same spot that she was. But who hasn't had their heart stomped on? Who hasn't felt like raging and reacting?

The more I think about this story and contemplate it, the more I realized just how much it even inspired me. Taking your pain and turning it into something positive is very empowering and a great message.


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

Connect with Brenda Janowitz:
Website      Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Happens in Tuscany by T.A. Williams

3.5 Star

Katie never imagined her life was perfect. But when she finds herself on a rainy street, soaked to the bone and with only a cheating boyfriend and a dead-end job keeping her in town, she knows something has to change. Which is what leads her to Iddlescombe Manor, to be companion to Lady Victoria Chalker-Pyne – the only 25 year old Katie’s ever met who hasn’t heard of Twitter, thinks camisoles are de rigueur, and desperately needs an education in the 21st century!

…to the Tuscan sun!

But it wouldn’t be an education without a summer holiday – and where better than Tuscany? Decamping to Victoria’s family villa, it’s soon clear that the valley really does have it all: sun, sea…and some seriously gorgeous neighbours. The only question is: when the weather’s this hot, the wine is this smooth and the local men are this irresistible…will Katie ever want to make the journey home?


Kathryn - 3.5 Star

I really enjoyed this sweet novel from start to finish.  There was something about the simplicity of the characters and their genuine connections that made me relate to them without hesitation.

I loved the initial setting of Victoria’s home seat in the country and that Katie ends up there like a modern day Mary Poppins- visually I had her carrying a carpet bag and wearing Poppins-like hat and raincoat! Probably unlikely as the novel is set in the now- but still the image was there of someone coming to rescue and I liked that their relationship began in this way.  Victoria is both mature and completely naïve simultaneously but her eagerness to explore the world now at her disposal is apparent from the moment they meet and she’s very willing to take Katie along with her for the ride.

Their travel to Tuscany seemed a natural progression and, as most of the novel took place there, it’s only natural that the story took on that sweet, lazy heat of warm breezes and new relationships.  It was the perfect place for Victoria to break out of her shell and discover the men available to her!

Victoria is lovely because she’s new to everything and yet it turns out that she can be quite stubborn and determined to make her own mistakes.  I liked that spunkiness about her and the fact that she was so unassuming about her vast fortune was endearing.  Katie was also lovely. She seemed quite able to navigate between being friend to Victoria as well as teacher and protector which may not have been easy for most.  

The novel has a host of different sub-characters and while there are many of them I had no trouble keeping them sorted out- there was enough given to us by the author to make them real and they all brought a great deal to the novel.

All in all a delightful read and I sunk into it with pleasure.  Having finished the novel I went and looked into the author- go ahead and take a peek at the author's website and you might be surprised too!


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

Connect with T.A.Williams:
Website      Twitter      Goodreads

Monday, March 23, 2015

Would you rather with Charlene Carr

Please welcome Charlene Carr, author of Skinny Me.



Charlene Carr is a lover of words. Pursuing this life-long obsession, she studied literature in university, attaining both a BA and MA in English. Still craving more, she went on to earn a degree in Journalism. After travelling the globe for several years and working as a freelance writer, editor, and facilitator Charlene decided the time had come to focus exclusively on her true love-novel writing. She's loving every minute of it ... well, almost every minute. Some days her characters fight to have the story their way. (And they're almost always right!) Charlene's first series, A NEW START, is Women's Fiction full of thought, heart, and a heap of hope! Charlene lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and loves exploring the amazing coastline of her harbour town, dancing up a storm, and using her husband as a guinea pig for the healthy, yummy recipes she creates!

Connect with Charlene:

Would You Rather with Charlene Carr

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Oh my, all things I love ... though I don't think I could live without cheese!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Hmm, think I'll have to go with Bridget Jones.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Though I rarely have it, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine!

Camping or spa vacation?

Camping for sure, but I'd love to follow it up with a mini-spa day to smooth out all those overworked muscles!

Water or mountains?

Mountains by the water ... I'd love to live in Vancouver, where I could get both! St. John's is a nice second option. :)

Zombies or vampires?

Not too interested in either, though I did find Spike from Buffy pretty hot!

Dogs or cats?

Definitely dogs. I grew up beside this evil Siamese cat-pretty much turned me off.

Coke or Pepsi?

Neither ... unless with rum, then Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Tea a thousand times tea. I have a bit of an obsession - I bet a survey of my tea cupboard would reveal seventeen different kinds right now!

Dine out or take away?

Dine out! No dishes or garbage to take care of? Yes, please!

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical, though I read both.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback - easier to curl up in bed with.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad for sure - in love with the character development. (Never actually seen Downton Abbey).

Drama or comedy?

Dramatic comedy. (Yes, I've noticed I have a bit of a problem with picking just one option!)

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games. I love what a strong and complex character Katniss is!

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Gloss. I like me some shine!

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook

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

I like the idea of flying by the seat of my pants, and although it has worked for me it's also created some serious roadblocks. In my most recent book, By What We Love, I had a loose outline (basically major plot points). I think that'll be my method from now on. Much smoother process but still allows a lot of creativity as I write!


Skinny Me


Jennifer Carpenter dreams of being a different person – A person with confidence, a person with beauty, a person who weighs a heck of a lot less. 


At twenty-seven, her world falls apart. She’s out of work, her mother has died, her estranged brother is in a coma and, despite good qualifications, each and every job interview ends in another rejection. Marked by the teasing, taunts, and fat jokes that defined her childhood, Jennifer blames her current lack of success on her ever-growing waist band. 

In need of a change, Jennifer puts her dream of ‘skinny’ above all else. Obsessed with this mission, she devotes her life to becoming the ideal version of herself even if it means becoming alienated from the only people who love her. Determined to lose the weight she believes is ruining her life, Jennifer finds herself in danger of losing so much more.


Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Nook


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

4 Star

What happens when nine months suddenly becomes six?

Life has always gone smoothly for Jess Jackson, but then she got pregnant and it wasn't just her breakfast that started going down the pan. And now her baby has "fallen out" before she's even started ante-natal classes.

Suddenly, she's sucked into the bubble of the Neonatal Unit, where tensions run high and the real world feels very far away. She has a new home, new routines, new friends and even a new crush, just when she feels most distant from her old life and fiancé. Add in sleep deprivation, hormones, worry and the fact that she has more contact with her breast pump than her baby, and her neat little world is in grave danger of falling apart.

The third trimester is never easy, but it's a whole lot harder when your baby's no longer inside you...



Kathryn - 4 Star

I was engrossed by this novel by Jennifer Gilby Roberts and have firmly put her on my list of my favourite authors.  I’ve now read three of her novels and they have all had a new feel. I appreciate that she’s not got a formulated book format and is branching out in her subject matter.  While each novel I’ve read is told in the first person I also found each voice to be unique.

Early Daze was emotional, funny and sometimes shocking. There were moments when I was on the edge with worry about the characters and other moments I was relieved to be with them. 

What appealed to me the most about Early Daze was perhaps the supporting characters who bring Jess’ tale to life.  Jess’ voice is sweet and thoughtful as well as being petrified-  but the ladies who rally around her and give her strength to push through are women we would all wish to have in our corner.  I liked the diary-feel of the novel and while it sometimes felt one-sided in the thought process I think Roberts did an excellent job of giving the other parents living near the NICU personalities of their own. I was intrigued by father Ben’s role in the plot and very glad he ended up where he did, I was hoping Roberts would avoid the cliché of the new man…

While the subject matter was more serious than her other novels I still felt that Roberts put warmth and honestly into Jess’ role as a new mother- you can’t help but want her to pull through and that baby Samantha will be released from hospital as soon as possible.  There is a natural progression of their bond as Samantha gets bigger (which was virtually non-existent at her birth due to her very early arrival). While I’ve never experienced the fear of such an early birth myself I felt that the writing was genuine and the feelings expressed were true.


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

Connect with Jennifer Gilby Roberts:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Night Is The Hunter by Steven Gore

4 Star

They call it pulling the trigger.

Not by a killer in the night, but by a judge on the bench.

Twenty years ago, Judge Ray McMullin proved to the people of San Francisco that he could pull that trigger by sentencing Israel Dominguez to death for a gangland murder. But it meant suppressing his own doubts about whether the punishment really did fit the crime.

Now, as the execution date nears, the conscience-wracked judge confesses his unease to former homicide detective Harlan Donnally on a riverbank in far Northern California. And after immersing himself in the Norteno and Sureno gang wars, which left trails of bullets and blood crisscrossing the state, and in the betrayals of both cops and crooks alike, Donnally is forced to question not only whether the penalty was undeserved but the conviction itself.

Soon those doubts and questions double back, for in the aging judge's panic, in his lapses of memory and his confusions, Donnally begins to wonder whether he's chasing the facts of the case or just phantoms of a failing mind. But there's no turning back, for the edge of night is fast closing in on Dominguez, on McMullin, and on Donnally himself.


Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

As soon as I started reading Night is the Hunter, I was quite intrigued. The story was so well developed and every situation and character were described so incredibly well that I felt like I may very well be on a ride along with Harlan Donnally.

I do enjoy a good detective/police novel and this was one not to miss. The story had me gripped and I already want to read this author's previous two books. It is clear that he has some real experience with situations of this type as the details rang true.

I was quite pleased with how Gore focused on the main part of the story yet incorporated other parts of Harlan's life into it without losing track of the most important details. I am not a fan of thrillers that stray too far off of course because I like the story to make sense sequentially. I did have a bit of trouble keeping some of the gang members straight but I think it was more a question of me paying a bit more attention than the author's writing ability.

Night is the Hunter kept me reading well into the night due to its fast pace and short chapters. A compulsive and highly enjoyable read, a definite must read for any fan of this genre.


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

Connect with Steven Gore:
Website       Facebook      Goodreads

Friday, March 20, 2015

Would You Rather with Laura Curtis

Please welcome Laura K. Curtis, author of Echoes.


Laura K. Curtis does everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she’s chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty.

Laura has taught middle school social studies, high school literature, and college-level rhetoric, all with relative success. She’s also a full-on Mac geek who spent years as a consultant and running an academic computing lab. The only thing she completely failed at in the field of education was attempting to teach obedience to her pack of Irish Terriers. Currently, she lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and two insane Irish Terriers who have taught her how easily love can coincide with the desire to kill.



Connect with Laura:
Website     Twitter    Goodreads


Would You Rather with Laura K.Curtis


Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

Cheese! (I love chips and chocolate, too, but cheese, ah, it’s a lifetime obsession.)

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Hmmm…I don’t particularly care to have any of these women as a friend, but I guess the one I’d find easiest is Bridget Jones.

Wine, beer or vodka? 

Vodka.

Camping or spa vacation? 

Spa, baby! 

Water or mountains? 

Water.

Zombies or vampires? 

Zombies.

Dogs or cats? 

Dogs! I have two Irish Terriers and I cannot imagine my life without them. I like cats just fine, but dogs come first in my heart.

Coke or Pepsi? 

Coke.

Coffee or tea? 

Tea. Preferably iced.

Dine out or take away? 

Dine out. My husband’s a takeaway kind of guy, which sometimes causes problems. I don’t want to eat fancy food, but I want to eat it there.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops? 

Fluevogs!

Physical Book or ebook? 

Physical for non-fiction, e for fiction.

Paperback or Hardcover? 

My keeper shelves have hardcovers, but I don’t read them. They’re too hard on the hands. I read in e, or in paperback for non-fiction.

Pen or pencil? 

Pen. Preferably fountain.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad? 

Breaking Bad, I guess. Though really, Justified.

Drama or comedy? 

Drama

Twilight or Hunger Games? 

Hunger Games

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Lipgloss.

Facebook or Twitter? 

Twitter! I am on both, but I spend the vast majority of my time and energy on Twitter.

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

Pants, definitely. I got 2/3 of the way through my first book, Twisted, and then killed off the guy I was sure was the murderer. Ooops. Luckily, there were other candidates for the job.


Echoes

A single photo of herself as an infant on a beach, taken before the date on her birth certificate, throws everything Calliope Pearson knows about herself into question. Hoping to find answers, she takes advantage of her job as a travel writer to make a reservation at the Caribbean island resort in the picture.

Resort security chief Mac Brody distrusts Callie on sight. After all, she looks exactly like his deceitful missing wife, Nikki, who owns half the resort. But when Nikki’s found dead, Mac's facing murder charges, and he’s sure that Callie must hold the key to proving his innocence.

The deeper Callie and Mac dive into the mystery of her past, the more bodies surface. And they’ll have to learn to trust each other, or become victims of a dark danger neither could've imagined…

Available at:

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