Friday, February 12, 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

5 Star

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. 

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. 

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything… 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

When I think of this book, I automatically think of how utterly creepy but absorbing it was. I truly love a story like that that makes me squirm yet thrills me at the same time. The story seemed to be utterly straightforward but I suspected, and correctly so, that there was more behind it in the end. 

The cover was an appropriate tribute to the overall feeling of the book which was definitely mysterious and the fact that the story went back and forth between past and present until the final denouement really helped for the mystery to remain until the very final moments. I was quite pleased that I did not figure out what really happened even though I desperately tried to.

I found myself quite intrigued by Jean Taylor and her husband Glen and the very foundations of their relationship. It seemed quite interesting to me to note that they were both interesting characters with their fair share of secrets. In the end, I was quite surprised as to what really happened as it was not at all possible to get a good read on either of them. They definitely piqued my interest and kept it there.

A great read for any fans of suspense, I suspect that this will be one of the standout books in this genre for 2016.

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

Connect with Fiona Barton:
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding by Samantha Tonge

3 Star

Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?
There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s sure she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…hopefully in time for the wedding…

Kindle    Nook     Kobo

Kathryn - 3 Star

There is something very natural about Samantha Tonge’s writing. Her stories flow easily and there are perfect relationships and heart-warming characters to wrap yourself up in which helps you immerse yourself immediately in the story. 

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding has Pippa and Nico getting married during the Christmas season in a small town in Greece. The novel is contemporary and sets us in the country during economic uncertainty. The plot also includes modern events which will no doubt leave you thinking about your own position in life. I liked that the author didn’t avoid these topics altogether but left them placed just so for you to contemplate- it was well done.

Julie has pre-wedding nerves, and not just the typical ones that have her questioning if she’s ready to commit to one man for the rest of her life, her nerves revolve mostly around if she’s ready to commit to the mental scope available to her from the small village life.  I could understand that she was worried that the idyllic setting would wear off and become less than she needed intellectually.  Nico, of course, is charming and the picture of what one would expect.  I’m glad he was also tough enough to make sure she knew his position and didn’t back down- we didn’t need a wishy-washy hero!   But most charming to me was the incorporation of the villagers lives and how everyone was involved (in a good way) in each other’s lives.  The simplicity in their helping of each other was encouraging on a larger scale.

Though the story was simple, the writing clearly expressed the characters turmoil and the hope for the village’s future.

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

Connect with Samantha Tonge:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Girl's Guide to Getting Hitched by Sophie Hart

4 Star

Rule number one: Keep calm and marry on…

When new mum and events planner Julia Crawford is given the opportunity to plan three weddings, she jumps at the chance. What could possibly go wrong? … 

Forget bridezilla, Aimee’s future mother-in-law is the stuff of nightmares – hell bent on taking over the wedding entirely. Worse still, her fiancé, Jon, seems oblivious. Aimee’s starting to wonder if she and her groom-to-be are right for each other after all… 

Body shy Debbie is on a mission. She’s determined to shed a lot of pounds before the big day. As the wedding inches closer, will the new Debbie lose sight of what’s really important? 

Gill loves Mike and their blended family of five kids to bits, but with a house full of teenage hormones and her eldest, Kelly, struggling with so much change, Gill is feeling the pressure... 

As the women bond over cake and a cuppa, can they each resolve their wedding woes before the big day? 

Kathryn - 4 Star

This novel really made me smile. Not the first book of Sophie Hart’s I’ve read, I was expecting to be immediately immersed in the story and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters are always realistic and I find them easy to relate to which is automatically a nice thing.

Julie is a fairly typical new mum I would suspect- completely besotted but also overwhelmed about the time management required with a new baby- the lack of one’s old life bringing issues up with your spouse, which then have to be dealt with around the needs of a child.  I liked her personal decision though to get back into event planning and liked that Hart made sure to have them navigate the new pressure on their schedules.  They were a good guide to what may happen after getting hitched.

I was also charmed by the friendships between the women that arose from Julie’s wedding planning. It was nice for them all to develop such closeness despite being at different stages of life. It’s not always easy to make new friends at this age and the author made it seem completely natural.
Debs and Gill were coming at their weddings from different perspectives and yet they both had solid relationships to build on with their partners whereas Aimee was in doubt about hers from the get-go.  It was obvious it wasn’t going to work out but I admired Aimee’s journey to find herself while realising what was wrong with her partnership.  (Plus the crazy mother in law made for some good moments in the novel. Wow!)

The Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched was a heart-warming story of friendship and relationships which you will breeze through with a smile on your face.

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

Connect with Sophie Hart:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Best friends forever by Kimberla Lawson Roby

4 Star

Angry arguments between Celine Richardson and Keith, her husband of twelve years, have become common over the past several months. 

She resents that he's working very long hours and staying out, and he accuses her of not giving him the attention he deserves. The situation turns devastating when Celine is diagnosed with breast cancer and Keith moves out. Even more heartbreaking is how their ten-year-old daughter, Kassie, is affected. Celine's only comfort is her best friend, Lauren, who's there for her every step of the way. Even when Keith decides he's made a mistake, begs forgiveness, and asks to come back home. 

Now, Celine will be forced to make tough decisions, and for the first time in her life, she wants to give up. Lauren vows to help by any means necessary and makes the kind of sacrifice only a best friend can. But will it be too late?

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I really enjoyed this book. Knowing that this was a smaller book, I picked it up one day, suspecting that I could get through it in a day or two. Luckily this was during the holiday period, because I felt myself drawn into the topics addressed in this book and I really could not put it down. I finished it in one day, practically in one sitting, and I did not regret taking the time to read through this genuinely touching story. The story of Celine and the breakdown of her marriage as well as her serious illness, was a story that touched me deeply. I could not imagine the depths of strength it would take for her to survive all of these hardships and continue to care for her daughter at the same time.

The story was short and definitely had its sweet moments. I had not yet heard of this author before, but have come to learn that she has many other stories and books. The cover art was definitely an appealing part of reading this book. I truly enjoyed looking at it every time I saw the cover. It also was an apt symbol for what the story was essentially about – friends supporting each other through difficult times.

Uplifting, heartfelt and inspiring, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to have a little bit of a cry while being encouraged through a tough spot.

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

Connect with Kimberla Lawson Roby:
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Name 3 things with Cat Lavoie

Please welcome Cat Lavoie, author of Peri in Progress, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!

About Cat:

Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. She is the author of BREAKING THE RULES, ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN, and PERI IN PROGRESS. 

If Cat isn’t reading or writing, she’s most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.

Connect with Cat:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Cat Lavoie on Name 3 things:

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

 In your fridge

- Breath of Fresh Air toner from Lush. 
- Five different kinds of mustard (Hot, Honey, Dijon, Dijon Honey, Sweet Onion. I might have a problem.)
- Pink pickled turnips (so delicious!)
In your purse

- Packets of Splenda.
- Coupons (… that I never remember to use when I'm shopping.)
- Evian Facial Spray.

In/On your bedside table

- Four pairs of old prescription glasses. 
- A set of Shakespeare bookmarks I won in a grade school Spelling Bee.
- People Magazines from circa 2005. (I really need to recycle those!) 

In your car

No car…yet!
On your desk/writing spot

- Cat ears from an old Halloween costume. (Sometimes I put them on to write.)
- Twisted Peppermint fragrance mist from Bath & Body Works.
- Cat treats to throw at Abbie if she's begging for attention while I'm trying to work.
In the "junk drawer"

-Chargers for phones I don't own anymore.
-Salt & pepper packets.
-So. Many. Chopsticks. (Despite my best efforts, I'm still unable to eat with chopsticks.)

In your closet/garage/storage room

- A binder full of bad poetry I wrote in high school.
- VHS tapes. (I no longer own a VHS player.)
- Big, furry, cat slippers. (Of course.)

In your music or movie collection

- Box sets of British TV shows. (I am a huge fan of Britcoms.)
- The first cassette I ever bought—by MC Hammer! (I feel old.)
- Two DVD copies of Bridget Jones’s Diary. (I thought I’d lost the first copy when I moved years ago, but I found it at the bottom of a box a week later after I’d already bought a replacement.)

On your bookshelf

- A stuffed black sheep I bought when I visited Stonehenge.
- Sand from a beach in Mexico I visited in my late twenties. (Was I allowed to bring that back?)
- Harry Potter bookends.

Peri in Progress

You know what they say about best-laid plans…

After a disastrous thirty-first birthday party where she gets stood-up by a man she isn’t supposed to be dating, Peri McKenna decides it’s time to change what hasn’t been working—which is pretty much everything. Her love life is going nowhere fast, she’s bored to tears by a job that makes her the office pariah, and the lifelong junk food addiction that used to be somewhat quirky is now positively problematic. To top it all off, her newly-purchased home is falling apart and wishful thinking hasn’t done much to fix the leaky roof. 

It’s time be an adult now that she’s officially ‘thirty-something.’ 
But when the first step of Peri’s self-improvement plan backfires, she starts to wonder if change might be overrated. 

Enter Milo Preston, an up-and-coming chef who’s in town to take over a local restaurant. When Peri and Milo begin working together, she finds it hard to ignore his easy charm and captivating emerald-green eyes. Since Milo is her best friend’s estranged brother, Peri has to keep reminding herself that he is completely off-limits. As they grow closer, Milo introduces Peri to new foods, the joy (and pain) of jogging, and makes her think her luck might finally be turning.

But when the past catches up with them, Peri finds herself back at square one. Will she be able to sort herself out—or will the roof cave in on her once and for all? 

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The secret wisdom of the earth by Christopher Scotton

5 Star

After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.

Medgar is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the "company" and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

An absolutely riveting read, I am pretty sure that it will be difficult to beat The Secret Wisdom of the Earth as far as one of my favorite books of the year. I find myself stunned to discover that this is the first book that Christopher Scotton has written. I really and truly can only pray that he writes another one. And soon!

The story is set in a small town, Medgar, in the Appalachians and largely centres around Kevin, who is spending his time there to recover with his family after the untimely death of his little brother. If that wasn't story enough, more drama and unbelievable events occur that summer with his new found friend Buzzy. An incredible and almost epic tale, I really loved this book and was very sad when it was done.

It isn't a short book by any means, but felt too short when it was done as I could have continued reading on forever. The way that Scotton describes the characters and places he uses is nothing short of magical. You can tell that this is a place that is dear to his heart and he made me fall in love with it as well. Just remembering the story is making me reflect with a smile on my lips. It is just that good.
If you read one book this year that makes you believe in the power of an amazing story but also lifts you up and makes you believe that good can triumph over evil, this is definitely the one you will want to pick up.

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

Connect with Christopher Scotton:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L. Longworth

4 Star

A friend in his cigar club asks Antoine to visit René Rouquet, a retired postal worker who has found a rolled-up canvas in his apartment. As the apartment once belonged to Cézanne, Rouquet is convinced he’s discovered a treasure. But when Antoine arrives at the apartment, he finds René dead, the canvas missing, and a mysterious art history professor standing over the body.

When the painting is finally recovered, the mystery only deepens. The brushwork and color all point to Cézanne. But who is the smiling woman in the painting? She is definitely not the dour Madame Cézanne. Who killed René? Who stole the painting? And what will they do to get it back? 

Kathryn - 4 Star

I have really developed a love for Longworth’s mysteries. This is only my second but there’s something about them that I find myself immersed by, perhaps it’s the area of France where she sets her novels?  

I spent a year in Aix as a child and the streets, sights and regions of the city reminded me of that wonderful part of my childhood.  Longworth also takes simple people with normal lives and gives them intrigue while keeping the threads of a mystery with suspense through the story line.  At the end of this particular novel we are treated to a development in Verlaque’s life that makes him more realistic and made me want to call him up, like an uncle I hadn’t spoken to in ages, and have a long chat.

The novel had two threads, the current mystery of the missing Cezanne portrait and the flashes back to Cezanne himself in his own period and his relationship with the woman who may be the sitter in the current day’s missing portrait.  The story switches between past and present and I was enthralled by the whole thing, the mystery and the history both.

My only issue with Longworth’s writing is the way she switches between a character’s first and last name. It adds a host of additional names you have to sort out in your head which is unhelpful as there are enough characters to keep track of as it is.

The novel is quietly fascinating and I would recommend ML Longworth’s mysteries to anyone.

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

Connect with M.L. Longworth:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads


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