Sunday, November 23, 2014

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey

4 Star

Tamsyn Thorne has not been back to her home town of Poldore for five long years.

But now her brother, Ruan, is about to get married and she has no excuses left.

Her plans to arrive in Cornwall looking chic and successful are dashed when a huge storm turns her from fashion goddess to a drowned rat. Worse, she ends up insulting the local hunky vicar – and then finds a tiny baby abandoned in his churchyard… 





Kathryn - 4 Star

The greatest appeal for me with Two Weddings and a Baby was the small village life in Cornwall and characters that Bailey created.  I will not pretend that the plot will throw you, it won’t. But the people surrounding the plot will make you feel warm and content and that should be enough to give it a go.

The author also writes under the name Rowan Coleman and I’ve read a few of her novels under that name and didn’t realise this was the same person at all until I started digging around. The same things I liked about the Coleman novels are also true in Two Weddings and a Baby- the people are well painted and there isn’t a single one that I didn’t want to invite over for dinner.

This novel has everything: lots of laughs, an attractive and altruistic love interest, a baby found in a basket in a storm and a family with issues all trying to get themselves organised for an imminent wedding.  The lost infant propels Tamsyn into thoughts she wasn’t quite prepared for and coupled with her increasing interest in Jed she finds herself unprepared to return to her previous life in Paris. Although I felt her Paris relationship believable I was much happier with the Tamsyn in Poldore than the one who resided in Paris.  It goes without saying that the author probably intended this to be the case- regardless though, I’m glad we were given a full picture of her French existence to have the comparison.

One of my favourite series of interactions in the novel was that of Tamsyn and her 4 year old nephews- they were so funny together and I loved her relationship with them- it definitely gave something more to her personality.

I hear there are other novels written with some of the same characters- I shall have to seek those out because I was completely entranced by the town and the people of Poldore.


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

Connect with Scarlett Bailey:



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone

4 Star

Karom Seth should have been in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, and on the Indian shores in 2004, when the tsunami swept his entire family into the ocean. Whether it's a curse or a blessing, Karom can't be sure, but his absence from these disasters has left him with crushing guilt—and a belief that fate has singled him out for invincibility. 

Karom's affliction consumes everyone around him, from his best friend, Lloyd, to his girlfriend, Gita, who hopes that a trip to India will help him find peace. It is in Delhi that he meets Gita's grandmother, Kamini—a quirky but wise woman with secrets of her own. At first Karom dismisses Kamini, but little does he realize that she will ultimately lead him to the clarity he's been looking for.




Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

Where Earth Meets Water revolves around several characters and I have to admit that at first I found it somewhat difficult to get into the story as I had to work a bit at keeping things straight. I am not sure if I personally have trouble when the story moves around a bit or if it just takes time to get used to that style of writing, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Karom, Gita, Lloyd and Kamini.

Where Earth Meets Water centers a lot on tragedy and the repercussions on being involved or having loved ones be involved in such awful and heartbreaking events. I found this a unique story simply because not many authors are willing, or even able, to broach such a sensitive topic.

The story had enough momentum to keep me interested even when some events seemed to be too overdone with not enough happening. There were also some places that ideas seemed to be left hanging and never resolved by the end of the book.  Despite this the novel was quite intriguing and some plot points took time to come together so I definitely wanted to keep reading to figure everything out.

For a debut novel, I would definitely recommend it especially if you like a bit of mystery in a fictional dramatic storyline.

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

Connect with Pia Padukone:

Website      Facebook      Twitter      Goodreads



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Would You Rather....with Imogen Robertson

Please welcome Imogen Robertson, author of The Paris Winter.

Imogen Robertson :

 

IMOGEN ROBERTSON directed for TV, film, and radio before becoming a full-time author. She also writes and reviews poetry. Imogen is the author of several novels, including the Crowther and Westerman series. She was shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2011 and for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award 2012. The Paris Winter was partially inspired by Imogen's paternal grandmother, a free-spirited traveler who set off through Europe with money sewn into her skirts.


Connect with Imogen Robertson:
Would You Rather... 
with Imogen Robertson

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Oh cheese, every time! But then my husband talks about cheese for a living, so I’d get in trouble if I said anything else. On my research trips to Paris for the novel, he did plenty of research of his own.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones. I loved the book, and when the film came out I was single, living in London and working in TV so I felt very close to Bridget. Never managed to get Hugh Grant and Colin FIrth to fight over me though.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Please don’t make me choose. I lived in Russia for a while in the early nineties so I’d miss the vodka, I’ve spent too much time in France not to love wine, but I am British and beer is a bit of a religion here.

Camping or spa vacation?

That’s easy. Camping. I’d much rather be reading a book in a meadow rather than by a pool covered in skin nourishing gunk.

Water or mountains?

Any chance of an alpine stream?

Zombies or vampires?

Please, vampires have castles and as they are immortal can be very useful for historical research. Zombies just grunt and leave a terrible mess.

Dogs or cats?

Got to be a cat. I borrowed my mother-in-law’s cat when I was editing Paris Winter and she was very useful.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. I’d never have written a book without it.

Dine out or take away?

Depends on my mood, but as the Winter comes on being tucked up at home with a take-out is lovely.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers. In case I need to run away from the zombies you mentioned.

Physical Book or ebook?

For reading pleasure, a physical book. For taking everything I want to read with me when I leave the house - ebook.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback. I’m afraid I bend spines.

Pen or pencil?

When I got my first book deal I went crazy and bought a beautiful fountain pen. I use it all the time. 

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Can I just read a book instead?

Drama or comedy?

When I have the take-out on the sofa, I watch action movies.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games every time. I reckon I’d be brilliant with a bow and arrow.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss. I just end up getting lipstick on my teeth.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook for conversation and Twitter for links and news. Though when I need to work I have to switch them both off.

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

I always plot in advance - it stops me going up too many blind alleys when I write. That said, as the characters develop and start taking on a life of their own, the plot always changes. I’d worry now if it didn’t.

The Paris Winter


Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud is hired by Christian Morel as companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie. But Sylvie, Maud discovers, is not quite the darling she seems. She has a secret addiction to opium and an ominous air of intrigue. As Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. And before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Zoey and the Moment of Zen by Cat Lavoie

3 Star

When coffee shop owner Zoey Everwood takes her obsession with ex-boyfriend Braden too far, everyone—except Zoey—is convinced a bit of fun in the sun at the Moment of Zen Wellness Resort will help her get over him once and for all. 

But Zoey's relaxing vacation turns out to be anything but peaceful when she meets Shane Lawson, a resort guest who bears a striking resemblance to Braden. And things get even more complicated when the resort's owner starts spilling secrets about Zoey’s aunt Nessa, the woman who raised her. Add a snarky Wellness Coordinator and Nate Holmes—Shane's grumpy friend—to the mix, and you've got the recipe for a perfect tropical storm. 

When Zoey comes back home with a new husband instead of tacky souvenirs, she must convince everyone she hasn't completely lost her mind. As Zoey and Shane struggle to keep the magic alive outside the resort, Zoey discovers that she isn't the only one having trouble letting go of the past. And when Nate drops a bombshell that changes everything, Zoey must decide if the old saying is true—what happens at the Moment of Zen stays at the Moment of Zen.


Kathryn - 3 Star

Poor Zoey! She’s so likeable and endearing that I couldn’t help but feel for her from the first few pages and yet her “in-control side” (with her business) made her entirely realistic. Not many of us can say that we’ve never felt the urge to find out what an ex is up to, to see how his life is now and to find out if he regrets the break up. Zoey is completely honest (with herself) that the things she’s done are perhaps not entirely above board but her heart is broken and she can’t seem to move past the hurdle and let go.

While I felt synergy with Zoey, her friends and her aunt I did have a hard time falling for the likelihood of the plot. Perhaps I’m being nitpicky but I felt it truly astonishing that someone who had their head entirely screwed on straight in their business would find themselves so utterly swept up in the romance of a beach setting to get themselves a new beau so quickly. Am I being a prude?  Likely. And it’s possible that I’m fixating on the early part of the novel and not what subsequently occurs back in reality. I liked what happened after their return to life and I whole heartedly agreed with the turn the novel took- which is good because I feel that Lavoie has a great knack for creating characters women can relate to.

Cat Lavoie made me believe in the environment and Zoey and the Moment of Zen had me desperate for sand, sun and all inclusive vacations and it is only fall!  This novel is quick and breezy and definitely a book you will rush through so you can find out how Zoey ends up moving on.  


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

Connect with Cat Lavoie:
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Would You Rather....with Petit Four Authors

Would you rather....with the authors of Petit Four:



Cindy Arora :

 
Cindy Arora was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register and Sacramento Magazine. She’s been published in Saveur, Tasting Table, Orange Coast Magazineand Fodor’s. She’s also mama to an adorable little boy, a feminist, a whiskey enthusiast, and proud to call herself a Chick Lit author. She is the author of Heartbreak Cake, a delicious debut novel, and a contributor to the anthology, Merry & Bright, with her story, “Christmas at Mulberry Inn.” 
Click here to connect with Cindy!

Lucie Simone:

Lucie Simone has a passion for travel, romance and all things chick lit. She also has a degree in Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Television Production. She is the author of novels, Hollywood Ending and Picture Perfect, both offering an insider’s take on life in the City of Angels. Her love of comedy (and living under the delusion that she might one day be an actress) resulted in a stint studying improvisation, which, ironically enough, taught her to be a better writer. She lives in Los Angeles (and loves it), but considers New York City her imaginary second home and visits the Big Apple as often as her bank account will allow. 
Click here to connect with Lucie!


Sue Watson:

Sue Watson is a former BBC TV Producer who woke up one morning to the realisation that there was no such thing as 'having it all.' Marriage, motherhood and a full-time career were taking over her life and what she really wanted to do was stay home all day, bake and eat cake, watch reality TV and write... in that order. So she quit the day job, baked a year’s supply of cupcakes and chased the dream. What followed was a lot of cake and many hours in the company of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey,’  ‘The Biggest Loser,’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ During this, time Sue also managed to write a few books too:  Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes; Younger, Thinner, Blonder; Love, Lies and Lemon Cake; and her latest cake offering, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake. 
Click here to connect with Sue! 


Joel Zlotnik:


Joel Zlotnik is a former Southern California journalist who was lucky enough to find a second career on the other side of the notepad, answering questions instead of asking them. He recently cancelled his cable so he would write more and quickly discovered online binge watching. You can find him living at the beach in South Orange County, where he listens to records, reads and watches the waves. 
Click here to connect with Joel!





Would You Rather... 
with the authors of Petit Four 
(they each picked the first 3 questions that jumped out at them!)

Cindy Arora

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?  
Well, I think five years ago I was more Carrie Bradshaw and these days it’s Bridget Jones. Way more accident prone and always lamenting the plate of cookies and wine I had while watching a movie.

Coffee or tea?  
I don’t do anything until I’ve had my coffee!

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 
I’m a writing cowgirl. Seat of my pants, yee-haw!


Lucie Simone

Water or mountains?
Well, I live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains & the views are stunning. But, if I could afford an ocean view, I think I’d choose that over mountains. The California coast is gorgeous! And you really can’t have a bad day if you wake up with the waves lapping on the shores right outside your front door.

Dogs or cats?
Cats! I am a self-confessed crazy cat lady. My publishing company is even named after two of my cats, Simon & Fig! I keep fantasizing about creating another imprint under the name of my newest kitty, Cleo, for historical fiction. After all, Cleo is my little princess!

Coke or Pepsi?
Sparkling water! I bought a SodaStream and make my own sparkling water these days. I down a bottle a day! Not sure if that’s good or bad…


Sue Watson

Chips, chocolate or cheese?
All of them. Probably at once.  How can you ask me to choose between my three great loves?

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?
My head (and feet!) say flip flops… but my heart says high heels. I have never worn very high heels but have this fantasy about wearing a delicious pair of incredibly high, very sparkly shoes on a shiny dance floor.  However, it would be less ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and more ‘staggering around in pain!’ Like most fantasies, the reality would be quite different!

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants?
I fly like a bird… soaring above my messy desk, talking a lot about deadlines, worrying about deadlines … and just having another cup of coffee. I never plan, let my characters take me there, and it’s during the writing process that my real talent for procrastination kicks in. I can often be found baking batches of cupcakes and following intricate recipes when really I should be at my desk and wondering how I ever finish writing a book or story. Along with my short story for ‘Petit Four,’ I’ve now written four novels using this ‘method’ and am convinced my characters just write my books for me while I’m baking!

Joel Zlotnik
Dogs or cats?
Cats … they don’t mind if I take a vacation to the mountains or the beach.

Dine out or take away?
If I’m going to order from a restaurant, I might as well eat there and let them do the dishes.

Physical Book or ebook?
Physical books for sure, unless I’m traveling. Then I’ll download a few.



Petit Four

When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.

From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love. 


Available at:




Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux

3.5 Star

Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark's life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow.


Kathryn - 3.5 Star

The Tumble Inn’s cover grabbed me and drew me in but unfortunately it had to sit there on my book shelf for a month or so before I was finally able to read it. The story (though sometimes slowly paced) drew me in immediately, as the cover had done.

I’ve read a few reviews that were frustrated about the pace of the novel and although I agree that it perhaps had a bit too much description and not a huge amount of “action” I found it fitting for the location and pace of life I would expect from a seasonal destination point.  The main characters Mark and Fran were often struggling with new situations and the first person narrative from the perspective of Mark made the novel reflective at times, but I found his thoughts on their lives interesting nonetheless. He seemed lost and out of his depth not only with the inn but also later with their daughter, this made him endearing to me and I noticed his feeling towards his wife and child much more than if we had had the story told from another point of view. It would have been an entirely different novel with another’s angle but for me, less authentic.  I did occasionally wish though that we had more time exploring their roles as innkeepers with the visitors and not just the endless jobs required of keeping the place upright during the winter months. I think we could have gleaned more insight into Mark and Fran’s personalities through interactions with other people and with less description of the surroundings and weather.

The dramatic events towards the end of the story were difficult but William Loizeaux made me believe that Mark’s feelings were genuinely honest. I could imagine many men experiencing the same sense of bewilderment and confusion when facing the new lives they had to lead together. My lingering feeling of The Tumble Inn a few weeks on is still positive and I enjoyed the novel.


Thank you to Syracuse University Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with William Loizeaux:


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Have a NYC 3 - Anthology

3 Star

Welcome to New York City. A place where stories lurk around every corner and linger in the hearts of the millions in these five boroughs. In these pages, tales of the underbelly of ­modern-day New York City hook-up with hilarious and ­poignant stories of love and loss in this annual collection of thrilling short stories by seasoned and fresh writers who know how to tell them. Edited by Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges, these stories are sharp and concise, each an unusual take on the swirling panorama of the streets of New York, from Hell’s Kitchen to Greenwich Village and Coney Island to Williamsburg, Queens, and beyond. Readers are transported by a modern noir sensibility, populated by a plethora of characters of our times, carving new notches of experience on the city that still fires up the imagination. Authors in this edition include acclaimed crime novelist Lawrence Block (A Walk Among the Tombstones, 8 Million Ways to Die), Liz Axelrod, Gil Fagiani, Bonny Finberg, Michael Gatlin, Kat Georges, Kirpal Gordon, Ron Kolm, Peter Marra, J. Anthony Roman, Angela Sloan, Paul Sohar, Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike and Nina Zivancevic.



Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I am truly a fan of short story compilations. Always have been, probably always will be. I enjoy the different perspectives and voices that are obviously apparent but this collection was not one of my favorites.

NYC is one of my favorite places in the world and I thought that the stories would be much more central to the theme of the city but a lot (or even most) of them were not really ones that had any particular characteristic that made me identify them with the city at all.

The story that I did really enjoy the most was Out With The Trash which was a hilarious tale of garden gnomes living in NYC. The Cleaning Lady was a sad commentary on life in the city and was somewhat heartbreaking. I also particularly liked Missing Daughter as it was a realistic portrayal of family dynamics.

Unfortunately only a few of the stories really thrilled me in the way I had hoped so sadly I couldn't give the collection a better rating but if you do go into it with somewhat different expectations, I think someone else could be pleasantly surprised.


Thank you to Three Room Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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