Monday, January 16, 2017

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

3.5 Star

For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister--who she discovered in a pool of blood--and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda's hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister's murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda's memories--and her very sanity--are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?






Sabrina-Kate - 3.5 Star

Having read a lot of thrillers this year, it is starting to take a lot to impress me but I also truly love this genre, so it is normal to be a bit critical at this stage. This particular book has been getting rave reviews but unfortunately it fell flat for me.

The main character, Linda, is a strange shut in and I found that part of the book fascinating as it helped open my eyes to a world that I have never been a part of and cannot really understand. It must be very difficult to be mentally ill and have to manage living despite the limitations.

Understandably, Linda wants to get revenge for her sister's murder, which she witnessed. That I can really understand, but I found the way she went about it entirely strange if not even a bit insane. Bordering on harassment, the way she acted with Lenzen was a bit out there and even though we don't learn much about him, his reaction was understandable. One strength of the book was the way that his character was portrayed because it was impossible to get a grasp on whether he was guilty or not.

I am not sure if the reason I didn't like this book very much was due to the fact that it was so talked about or if I just expected more to happen. Maybe even something was lost in translation. With a plot that seemed to just plod along with not a whole lot happening, I was sadly disappointed in what could have been.


Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Melanie Raabe:
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Would you rather...with Annie Dawson

Please welcome Annie Dawson, author of The House of the Soul.

Annie Dawson:

 

Annie Dawson grew up bouncing around the United States. She began writing while studying at the University of Hawaii. After graduation, she worked in television news before joining a leading advertising agency in Honolulu. There she produced a wide variety of documentaries, industrials, and television commercials. At the age of 30, Dawson left the corporate world and traveled to Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer. Soon after her return from West Africa she married her soulmate and moved with him to New Zealand. Together they are raising two beautiful boys and a variety of two, three and four-legged pets.


Connect with Annie:
Would You Rather... 
with Annie Dawson

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Dark chocolate and more dark chocolate please. It is a health food after all.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

I’d like Carrie’s wardrobe, but there’s no way I could pull it off, so it’s Bridget and Mr. Darcy for me.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Red wine, preferably a lovely Pinot Noir or a Chambourcin from our local winery.

Camping or spa vacation?

I dream of spa vacations, but my husband says they are an urban myth.

Water or mountains?

Warm tropical water filled with beautiful fish and green sea turtles to play with.

Zombies or vampires?

I’ll take Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire thanks.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs. We currently have two big mutts with seven legs between them.

Coke or Pepsi?

True confession: I was a serious Diet Coke addict for years. I still miss it, but I’m taking it one day at a time.

Coffee or tea?

I transferred my Diet Coke addiction to unsweetened iced tea.

Dine out or take away?

Either is heaven as long as I don’t have to cook or clean up.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

How I wish I could walk in heels higher than two inches! So many gorgeous shoes that will never adorn my clumsy size 10 feet. (insert heavy sigh here) It’s usually sneakers for me, but I’m happy any time I put on flip flops because it means I’m heading to the beach!

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical. I love the feel of a ‘real’ book (and my husband doesn’t make that face when I click to the next page while he’s trying to sleep).

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperbacks are easier to tote around.

Pen or pencil?

Erasable pen?

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey. I want all the vintage dresses, the long silk gloves, and the hats! (And I could probably even walk in those sensible shoes.)

Drama or comedy?

If in doubt, I choose to laugh.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games, although I thought the first book was by far the best of the trilogy.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Chapstick. Sad, but true.

Facebook or Twiter?

Neither. I occasionally glance at my husband’s Facebook page and look up to see two hours have evaporated with nothing to show for it.  I know as an author I’m meant to be a queen of social media, but I just can’t go there.

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

Both. I have an outline of where I’d like a story to go, but sometimes (when I’m really lucky) my characters revolt and decide to go their own way. I love when that happens!

The House of the Soul

Homemaker Ella Casey is circling the middle-age drain. Her once adventurous life is now measured in loads of laundry, her grand dreams of changing the world diluted with each rinse cycle. When she flies to the enchanting California estate of her best friend Teri for a Peace Corps reunion, the accomplishments of her peers threaten to soak up the last drops of Ella’s floundering self-esteem.

Teri Flores is everything Ella is not: glamorous, wealthy, and fearless. Her sprawling mansion, La Casa Del Alma, serves as both artists’ retreat and modern day salon to Teri’s eclectic entourage. Teri entertains her guests with lavish meals, outrageous activities, and impassioned debates, but the weekend sours when old grievances mix with new ambitions.

As past and present collide, Ella struggles to redefine herself, but will her growing need to validate her life end up destroying it?

Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lemon Twist by Charise Olson

4 Star

Audrey is planning her perfect wedding for her perfect life and perfect future as Dr. Gregory Smith’s wife. Right up until he calls with the news his chilly feet have gone icy cold.

With an unworn dress (that was just a few salads away from fitting), a lost promotion, and living in her best friend’s spare room it’s no wonder her therapist is on speed dial.

With help from great friends, some divine intervention, and a few Lemon Twist martinis, Audrey deals with her commitment phobic fiancĂ©, her boss’ roving eye, and the decision to chuck what’s left of her life state-side and head for volunteer work in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, Audrey learns Spanish, the perils of raw coffee beans, and how man trouble can find you even in the rain forest.

Because while Audrey might have left a lot behind, she still manages to bring along plenty of baggage.




Kathryn - 4 Star

I have to say that this novel was pleasantly different and not exactly what I was expecting. I had anticipated an alcohol fuelled series of events to help Audrey move past her fiance's change of heart. While she certainly has a few drinks with her friends (including the titled Lemon Twist) she actually ends up internally circling her relationship end by herself much of the time. Her depression and questioning, while at times a bit prolonged, actually leads her to seek help in her long forgotten God. I haven't come across a novel like this that brings religion in so firmly. While I found the frequent Bible quotes a bit annoying as they interrupted the flow of the plot, the sentiment was well placed. While not religious myself I still really a‎ppreciated the strength she found in them.

The move to overhaul her life was fabulous. There was so much newness in her move to Costa Rica and I was then really interested in her further journey. The men presented to her while in Costa Rica were both interesting but I didn't get a great feel for their bonds. The implication was there but not a lot of time was spent on their time together. It was interesting to realise this having finished the book. I suppose most of the focus was made on the other relationships she developed, the family she lived with in the country and her host missionary. And actually this was probably the right route to take when she was trying to find out who she was, without a man. 

On the whole Lemon Twist wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I enjoyed it.


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

Connect with Charise Olson:
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It's not you, it's them by Portia MacIntosh

4 Star

First comes love. Then comes family…

After a lifetime of kissing frogs, Roxie Pratt has given up on finding her own fairytale romance. That is, until she meets her very own Prince Charming, Mark Wright, and he sweeps Roxie off her feet!

So when Mark finally gets down on one knee and pops the question, there’s only one thing left to do: meet the family! And when everything has been picture-perfect so far, what could possibly go wrong…?





Kathryn - 4 Star

I always grab the chance to read a Portia MacIntosh novel and this one was a treat. MacIntosh delivers easily relatable characters with humour and warmth instantly from the first few pages. I was immediately drawn to Roxie and her boyfriend Mark because of their desire for each other. Their attraction was fabulous and I loved the vague details of their active sex life. Not because it was out there for the world to see but because it was honest and there's a lot to be said for healthy mutual attraction. 

The hurdle for them both throughout the novel was working out if their physical attraction was all they had. Much as their silly banter with each other complemented their attraction was there enough in common to build a complete life together? I liked the fact that they weren't in their early twenties but early thirties because there was a level of maturity about a life plan than isn't necessary earlier on in life.

The novel delivered hilarious circumstances which I've come to expect from the author. The family was perfectly awful for the most part and I was shocked by the outward feelings of disapproval coming from the mother-in-law. But that only served to make them examine their relationship more deeply.  It’s not you, it’s them made me laugh and feel frustrated but that’s what made it a great read.



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

Connect with Portia MacIntosh:
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Sting by Sandra Brown

3 Star

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her. 
As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive. 
Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their 
last.



Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I wish I could have said that I enjoyed this book more. Lately I have been enjoying police novels of all types and this one certainly started off promising enough. Sadly, although I read through it quite quickly, I did not really get that into it and had a fair amount of eye rolling moments.

Sandra Brown is definitely a best selling author for a reason though as I am sure that she has her niche market. I just don't buy the bodice ripping schtick that she is trying to sell. Even though Jordie was a likeable enough character (I suppose anyway), I truly did not connect with her character and found her somewhat naive, while being accomplished and intelligent which got on my nerves at times.

And I also could not believe the fact that conflicts of interest and ethical dilemmas were so lightly taken within the FBI. Just did not make sense to me. Admittedly, I am not expert but I do not think that a lot of the things that happened in the book would have been permitted to in real life.

Honestly, the entire story seemed a bit contrived to me but I suppose that it was a good escape from reality and that I did enjoy it for that aspect. It isn't necessarily something that I would read again but I did have moments that I enjoyed.

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


Connect with Sandra Brown:
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Return to The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

5 Star

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager. 
Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams. 
Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria. 
Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams? 




Kathryn - 5 Star

I felt such a connection to the place and people in the first novel (The Little French Guesthouse) that I pounced on the chance to read the sequel and I wasn’t disappointed. The bonds between the characters were still there in the sequel, as if Emmy had never left the idyllic French setting.

The plot was filled with action with new guests of the guesthouse especially as a large family reunion took over a good portion of the novel.  There was much angst as to how they would handle all the requirements of such a big booking and it made me anxious for Emmy and Rupert! Especially as they were trying to bounce back from the scathing review one guest had left.  As always, there were a lot of hilarious moments with the guests- the scathing review came after a particularly bizarre moment and I like that the author doesn’t brush over the difficult parts of running a hotel. Each guest is given a personality and each one brings either a bit of insight or a bit of humour, you can picture each one sitting around the kitchen dinner table with drinks and wonderful food that Rupert has prepared.

We are also treated to the return of Gloria as she tries to pretend she’d never left.   She adds a certain amount of tension to the storyline which compounded with the family reunion makes a portion of this second novel a bit of a page turner.  I still liked Alain and Emmy’s relationship.  I liked how it evolved organically and how they dealt with their obstacles.  Particularly sweet was their individual loyalty to Rupert.

On the whole this sequel didn’t disappoint- I hope there’s a third in the works!


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

Connect with Helen Pollard:
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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Stranded... with Rebecca Raisin

Please welcome Rebecca Raisin, author of Brides & Bouquets, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!





About Rebecca:


Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.





Connect with Rebecca:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads

Rebecca Raisin Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be?

Tough question…but it would have to be something big, that I could read over and again in case I’m stranded for a long time, so maybe Ulysses? I’ve always struggled that book, so I’d have ample time to read it and work it out!

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with?

Definitely wine. A never ending carton of wine.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use?

A toothbrush! I suppose I could learn to make one with some kind of branch, but I am not very practical and I am scared of spiders.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy?

As long as I had a book I think I’d enjoy it immensely!

If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be?

My twins! They’re only little so together they’d count as one person, right? They’re scared of spiders too so they’d be no help to me!

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My iPhone! I would have the most alarming withdrawal symptoms but again, maybe I can find a couple of empty cans, and some string and make my own phone system.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

Wine! But coffee is a close second.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue?

I’d say three! The honeymoon would be over after day two, and day three I’d be writing SOS in the sand for sure.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Eat pizza. I really love pizza. And soak in the tub.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return?

Survived shark infested waters to swim home and get Wi-Fi, what did I miss? #ManicMonday


Brides & Bouquets



Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!


Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!


It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…


Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.




Available at:
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