Monday, October 20, 2014

A Kind Of Mad Courage - Anthology

5 Star

Nineteen authors from around the world were given six weeks or less to produce “a story involving a mother somehow.” The result is a gorgeously eclectic collection of tales that will make you laugh, cry, and truly appreciate the “mad courage” of motherhood. 

Laura Chapman, Francine LaSala, Nikki Mahood, Heather McCoubrey, and Karen E. Martin each present unique takes on impending motherhood, while Sheryn MacMunn, kc wilder, and Julie Valerie portray the end of the journey. Samantha Stroh Bailey, Louise Wise, and Maria Schulz show the pride and peril of dealing with teenage daughters, while Elke Feuer, Diana Shafter Gliedman, and Donna Valenti demonstrate that a mother’s work is never done, even under the craziest of circumstances. Regina-Cash Clark, Wendy Janes, and Monique McDonell explore the impact on lives in which mothers go “missing,” while Carey Heywood and Jen Tucker warm your heart and tear it out, respectively.



Kathryn - 5 Star

An anthology is always intriguing because of the different writing styles but it was the simple directive given to the authors “just write a story involving a mother somehow” that possibly made A Kind Of Mad Courage most compelling.

I was expecting more tales of toddler trials and glorious newborns and was surprised by the number of stories that reflected and delved into the relationships between mothers and teens and with women and their own mother figures. I actually found myself analysing my own family’s relationships (triumphs and short-comings) while reading each author’s contribution. I’m afraid I found a few of them too hard to get through and had to go back and try again another day- those were the ones that tore at my heart so much it hurts still, just writing my review.  Others foreshadowed the upcoming teen years with own daughter and made me look at my now five year old with a new love and also some good healthy fear- I think healthy fear?

The one though that stuck with me the most was Julie Valerie’s LLL because it had everything in it- humour, depth of emotion, elements of frustration I could relate too and a bit of quirkiness with the scrabble words inter-mingled with the story. It made me want to play scrabble of course and at the same time made me think hard about a parent with dementia. I lost my dad two years ago and since that time I've been purposefully pushing all thoughts of losing my mother out of my mind. For me opening up to that eventuality was a good thing because it made me more aware of the now we still have.

I was impressed with all the short stories in this compilation and related to each one in some way. A Kind Of Mad Courage is definitely not only for those who are mothers but for everyone who has a close woman in their lives that they cherish- daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt or friend.


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

Connect with the authors:
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bad Bridesmaid by Portia MacIntosh

3.5 Star

‘My wedding is ruined and my marriage is going to fail. And it’s all your fault!'
LA romcom writer Mia Valentina has it all; money, success, a tanned and toned body, golden blonde hair and a string of sexy lovers. She’s almost forgotten her previous self: plain old Mia Harrison. Until a wedding invitation arrives requesting (demanding!) her presence as chief bridesmaid at her younger sister Belle’s upcoming nuptials.

Mia’s barely been back in England before she’s accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally ‘cursed’ the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister’s soon to be brother-in-law!

With the wedding of the year going dangerously off the rails, Mia has no time to waste – especially with sexy fireman and best man Leo on hand to help… Will she use all of her expert romance knowledge to save the day or will she just walk away? No one ever said a bad girl had to turn good…


Kaley - 3.5 Star

You know the things you love about British chick lit novels? The setting, the language, the humour, the ridiculous circumstances? Bad Bridesmaid by Portia Macintosh has all of those things and, thankfully, they all work together to create quite the enjoyable read.

I loved that Mia writes romantic comedies. I don't think I've ever read a chick lit novel that has a chick flick writer as its heroine. I find this surprising because it's just the type of profession that lends itself well to these books. Mia's job was fun and interesting but it also provided a way for readers to learn right away that Mia is not one for love.

Speaking of love, the romance angle in this book was slightly predictable (hello, it's chick lit) but it wasn't boring. I liked that Macintosh kept me on my toes. I was never quite sure what would happen next and, though I had a feeling I knew who Mia would end up with, there were enough curveballs thrown in the mix to keep the story, and the romance, interesting.

I think what kept me from rating this book four stars was Mia's relationship with her family. I couldn't stand (let alone understand) how much they seemed to hate her. There didn't seem to be a good enough reason for all the negative feelings. I cringed every time something went wrong, not because it did (they were usually hilarious incidents), but because I knew Mia would be blamed and there was no reason for it. It just wasn't believable! I also found the ending with her family to be slightly unbelievable as well...things just didn't match up with the way her fam had been acting previously and I didn't see any real change in them by the end of the book.

Going back to Mia...I really liked her. Just as her latest movie heroine was a bit of an atypical rom com leading lady, so is Mia a different chick lit heroine. She sleeps around, she's anti-love, she doesn't have many (ok, any) close girlfriends. But her personality is what makes Bad Bridesmaid so much better. She's not bad enough to justify her family's extremely negative reaction to her (see above) but her attitude towards life is interesting to read about. Her opinions are not often shared by a chick lit heroine so it was refreshing to get a new perspective in the genre.

Bad Bridesmaid is a really funny chick lit novel. If you're looking for some entertainment for a weekend, Portia Macintosh's novel is for you!


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

Connect with Portia McIntosh:
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Would You Rather with Yona Zeldis McDonough

Please welcome Yona Zeldis McDonough, You Were Meant for Me, Two of a Kind and A Wedding in Great Neck.


Yona Zeldis McDonough:


Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of the novels Two of a Kind, A Wedding in Great Neck, Breaking the Bank, In Dahlia's Wake, and The Four Temperaments, as well as nineteen books for children. She is also the editor of two essay collections and is the Fiction Editor at Lilith magazine. Her award-winning short fiction, articles, and essays have been published in anthologies and in numerous national magazines and newspapers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, two children and three very yappy Pomeranians.

Connect with Yona:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads

Would You Rather... 
with Yona Zeldis McDonough

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Without a doubt, chocolate, and the more expensive and imported, the better!


Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Becky Bloomwood, because like her, I am a shopper!


Wine, beer or vodka?

Uh…none of the above! Not an imbiber. How about an iced coffee, very light, with lots of crushed ice? 


Camping or spa vacation?

Spa all the way! Why sleep outside when we finally figured out how to come in from the cold?


Water or mountains?

Water, and specifically lakes or ponds. I like my water tranquil…


Zombies or vampires?

None of the above! Can I substitute mermaids, fairies or unicorns? Pretty please? 


Dogs or cats?

Dogs for sure.  I have two and if my husband agreed, I’d have a third. 


Coke or Pepsi?

Not a soda gal either. Make mine a lemonade, freshly squeezed and not too sweet please!


Coffee or tea?

Coffee! I like it hot, cold or any which way. 


Dine out or take away?

Dine out so someone else can clean up!


High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

How about Chanel cap-toe ballerina flats? Been coveting those for a long time now…


Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book for sure. 


Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback for fiction but hardcover for poetry. 


Pen or pencil?

Pencil, because you can sharpen the point.  And erase. 


Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Mad Men.  Those clothes…!


Drama or comedy?

Drama.  I like the dark notes. 


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Not feeling either of these…


Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick, bright red and creamy. I won’t stir from the house without it. 


Facebook or Twiter?

Vive Facebook! Love the interactions. 


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

Plot the novel but be prepared for the detours…that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting. 



You Were Meant For Me

What do you do when you have to give up the person you love most?

Thirty-five-year-old Miranda is not an impulsive person. She’s been at Domestic Goddess magazine for eight years, she has great friends, and she’s finally moving on after a breakup. Having a baby isn’t even on her radar—until the day she discovers an abandoned newborn on the platform of a Brooklyn subway station. Rushing the little girl to the closest police station, Miranda hopes and prays she’ll be all right and that a loving family will step forward to take her.

Yet Miranda can’t seem to get the baby off her mind and keeps coming up with excuses to go check on her, until finally a family court judge asks whether she’d like to be the baby’s foster parent—maybe even adopt her. To her own surprise, Miranda jumps at the chance. But nothing could have prepared her for the ecstasy of new-mother love—or the heartbreak she faces when the baby’s father surfaces...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Would You Rather with Lauren Clark

Please welcome Lauren Clark, author of Pie Girls, Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, and Dancing Naked in Dixie.


About Lauren Clark:



After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Lauren Clark moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family and write full-time. 

Lauren has published four novels, Pie Girls (set in Fairhope, Alabama), Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, andDancing Naked in Dixie, under the pen name, Lauren Clark. More than twenty-two thousand copies of Lauren's novels have been sold worldwide.


Connect with Lauren:
Website    Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... Lauren Clark

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate. If you throw in some caramel, I'm likely to swoon!


Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?


Becky Bloomwood. She's a riot. So well-meaning, but can't keep her life from veering out of control.  Laugh out loud funny, and I can't wait for "Shopaholic to the Stars!"

Wine, beer or vodka?

Red wine. Hands down.


Camping or spa vacation?

As much as I'd like to fib and say camping, I'm definitely a spa girl!


Water or mountains?

That's a tough one. I love both. Do I have to choose?


Zombies or vampires?

Vampires. I'd rather have a bite on the neck and live forever than have someone feast on my brains!  Eeeek!


Dogs or cats?

Dogs. I've had two black labs and they are the most loving, loyal pets.


Coke or Pepsi?

Diet Dr. Pepper. I know that's not a choice.  


Coffee or tea?

Coffee. 


Dine out or take away?

I like to go out, but I prefer funky joints or upscale spots that are family owned and operated. 


High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

I'm a shoe junkie. Love high heels.


Physical Book or ebook?

I love a physical book, but admit that I've grown accustomed to reading on my iPhone because it's convenient!!


Paperback or Hardcover?

Hardcover.


Pen or pencil?

Pen. There's something about the ink on the page.


Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey. The writing is brilliant and I love the family conflict. It's drama without violence, sex, and cussing, but manages to be gripping and compelling. Proof that great writing and a fabulous storyline can win the day!


Drama or comedy?

 Drama to read. Comedy to write!


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games. I love Katniss. I adore a kick-butt female protagonist with insurmountable odds.


Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lip gloss.  I love Bobbi Brown or MAC.


Facebook or Twiter?

I'm on Facebook more, but Twitter is really growing on me. I've met and made friends with fabulous people on both.


Pie Girls

Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style. 

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man. 

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever. 

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls. 


Available at:



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda le Grange

5 Star

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young typist in her twenties later chosen to become the President's most loyal and devoted servants, spending most of her adult working life travelling with, supporting and caring for the man she would come to call 'Khulu', or 'grandfather'.

Here Zelda pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him - a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. A man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed Zelda from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. Now she shares his lasting and inspiring gifts with the world.


Kathryn - 5 Star

I jumped at the chance to read this autobiography. Like most people in the world I believe that Nelson Mandela is a man whose presence will never be lost and I was intrigued and excited to read about him through someone else’s eyes, someone who spent so much time with him. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened Good Morning, Mr Mandela and I was quick to realise that Zelda la Grange loved her employer with as much admiration as anyone else in the world.  Her entire youth was dedicated to ensuring that he was taken care of and that his needs were met from an administrative point of view as well as his family’s personal needs- from organising meetings with heads of state to ensuring transfers were made for his personal banking. 

I found some aspects of her autobiography fascinating and others a bit slow.  Sometimes we got a bit too much detail about their travel and movements but in the end I understood her purpose behind what appeared to be occasionally mundane anecdotes. I think the length of her thought process needed to be there to give us the sense of her long standing relationship with Mandiba and her full commitment to him.

I was touched with her moments and connections with Mr Mandela’s wife Mrs Machel as they obviously appreciated each other’s interest in him and realised that they were both of the utmost importance to his life staying on track.  Mr Mandela’s gentle firmness and insight is clearly expressed through Zelda la Grange’s memoirs and I gained a sense of the man through her writing of this book.  I cried a number of times reading about his last year of life, the turmoil of his family struggling with each other for standing and power over him, his business and his finances.  The last couple of chapters were particularly hard to read- the confusion and chaos around his funeral came as such a disappointment for a man who made his entire life about broaching peace and communication.

Good Morning Mr Mandela is an honest and poignant account of someone close to Mr Mandela for the last quarter of his life and I gained a lot of peace in reading it.


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

Connect with Zelda la Grange:
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Would You Rather with Deborah Coonts

Please welcome Deborah Coonts, author of Lucky O'Toole Vegas Adventure Series.


About Deborah Coonts:


My mother tells me I was born a very long time ago, but I’m not so sure—my mother can’t be trusted. These things I do know: I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I currently reside in Las Vegas, where my friends assure me I cannot get into too much trouble. Silly people. I am the author of WANNA GET LUCKY? (A NY Times Notable Crime Novel for 2010 and double RITA™ Finalist), LUCKY STIFF, SO DAMN LUCKY AND LUCKY BASTARD and novellas, LUCKY IN LOVE, LUCKY BANG andLUCKY NOW AND THEN. LUCKY CATCH is next (August 26, 2014)

Connect with Deborah:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads

Would You Rather... Deborah Coonts

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Really?  How can one chose between chips and chocolate?  Chocolate when I'm sad or celebrating.  Chips because, well, who can stop at just one?


Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Carrie Bradshaw, kick ass and sass in really great shoes… and who articulated the thought that women can live/date/have casual sex just like men do…. Not that it works out well, when they try.


Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka when speed is the need.  Wine when slow is the way to go.


Camping or spa vacation?

Camping?  My idea of camping is Motel 6.  I need hot water, a clean, comfortable bed, and electricity.  So, a spa vacation, for sure.  I’m a hedonist, what can I say?  Pampering, primping and a serious deep-tissue massage followed by a nap in the steam room?  My idea of Heaven.


Water or mountains?

Either.... but nothing in between.  But, if forced to choose, I do love the mountains.  All I have to do is breathe deep of that fresh, clean, pine-scented air, and the stress just flows away.  My grandmother had a little cabin in Colorado and we would go there every summer when I was young.  Magical memories that jump-started my love affair with the mountains.


Zombies or vampires?

Vampires….something about the rotting Zombie flesh is a turn-off.


Dogs or cats?

Dogs.  Loyalty is big with me.  And, if I’m going to be a slave to a pet, gosh, I’d really like to get something in return rather than a full litterbox.  I’ve known some cats that were affectionate… but not many.


Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.  Pepsi is HORRIBLE.  Too sweet, too…yuck.


Coffee or tea?

Coffee--the best caffeine-delivery vehicle ever.  A day never gets started without good coffee.


Dine out or take away?

As long as someone else cooks it I'm in, so either.


High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Kitten heels.

Physical Book or ebook?

Oh, man, do you really want me to wade into this battle?  Frankly….e-book.  I love the convenience.  I buy way more books and read a ton more now that the accessibility of a book isn’t an issue.  Thirty seconds and I have it on my iPad.  How cool is that?  And I travel a ton, so I can carry hundreds of books with me and not have to pay all those baggage fees.


Paperback or Hardcover?

Neither.


Pen or pencil?

My eyes are getting so bad that I find pencil hard to read.  And I never erase—I keep all my words, just mover them around.


Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

 Downton Abbey—who can resist Maggie Smith in anything?


Drama or comedy?

A bit of both....what is laughter without a few tears?


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games, please!  No contest.  Kickass heroines are my thing.


Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

 Lipgloss when going out.  Chapstick all the other times.


Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.  I can't say anything in less than 100,000 words.  140 characters makes me twitchy.


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

Make it up on the fly....I like to be surprised.  If I’m surprised, the reader will be as well.



Lucky Catch


Trouble always comes in threes.  At least that’s what Lucky O’Toole, the VP of Customer Relations for Las Vegas’ primo Strip casino/hotel, the Babylon, has heard for years from her mother.  So, tonight, when Teddie, her former lover shows up at her office unannounced and very unexpected, her father offers Teddie a job at the Babylon, she is called to deal with a pig in residence at one of the hotels most exclusive and opulent suites, and Lucky’s current lover, Jean-Charles Bouclet stops answering his phone leaving Lucky to handle his five-year-old son, Lucky figures she has tonight’s compliment of chaos covered.

As usual, she is a tad optimistic.

With a cadre of celebrity chefs with the maturity of teenagers in Vegas for a televised cook-off, a prized Alba truffle in the Babylon’s care, and her mother’s pregnancy racing toward the inevitable, what could go wrong?

When the truffle is stolen from the walk-in in Jean-Charles’ gourmet burger joint at the Babylon and a young chef apparently killed with a smoking gun is found in Jean-Charles’ food truck on the back lot, trouble takes a sinister turn. 

And Jean-Charles still isn’t answering his phone.

Another body is discovered.  This one stuffed in an oven at Jean-Charles’ eponymous restaurant and set to broil.

Desperate to put a lid on the body count and more than frantic over her AWOL lover, Lucky uses her Vegas contacts to search in places and in ways the police wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Teddie insists on riding shotgun.  Lucky hasn’t the time nor the resolve to say no.  She’s never been able to resist Teddie … not really.  With danger dogging their heels, Lucky finds herself falling once again under his spell as they traverse Vegas, being drawn deeper and deeper into the highly competitive world of high-end eateries and the battle for the very rare, most highly prized gourmet foodstuffs.

Would somebody really kill for a truffle?

In a heartbeat.
And when Lucky’s path crosses the killer’s… will her goose be cooked?  


Available at:


The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

4 Star

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn't need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.


Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

What a heartfelt and achingly realistic story.  I always find the stories of the struggles of immigrants to be very compelling and important to consider. The story of Lakshmi was one that almost broke my heart yet I found her to be more courageous and strong that we would initially have suspected (which was a triumph I was not quite expecting) initially. Her part of the story was more compelling than Maggie's for me as I did not really care for her personality much of the time.

These two main characters were very different and yet they connected in many ways despite their very different circumstances. I found that Lakshmi was a more humble and realistic person and Maggie came accross as a bit of a snob at times which only increased my empathy for Lakshmi.

I really did enjoy the glimpse into what a life would be like for someone coming from another country and one that had very different customs and beliefs from my own. I felt that we were given a realistic portrayal of what goes on and I cannot imagine how difficult such a transition could be.

This novel was definitely remarkable and thought-provoking and kept me interested as I could never figure out what would happen next. It made me very sad at times but I feel like that just increased the realistic nature of the tale being told.

I feel like a lot of important topics were broached in this story and that the author probably used a fair amount of her own experiences which only made this novel more heartfelt.


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

Connect with Thrity Umrigar:
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