Friday, November 16, 2018

Switch and Bait by Ricki Schultz

4 Star

We switch. I bait.
Let me help you snag a date.

All through college, Blanche Carter was known as the love doctor in her sorority. Now she's parlayed her talent into a unique consulting business: she runs the online dating profiles of Washington D.C.'s most eligible women.

Armed with a battalion of rules, Blanche expertly helps her clients optimize their profiles and ace that first date. But although she'll happily message handsome strangers (and fend off dick pics) for other ladies, Blanche's most important rule is the one she has for herself: no relationships. She's seen too much heartbreak to believe in real love anymore. 

When a former fling pops up among the matches for one of her favorite clients, Blanche gamely messages him on her behalf. Blanche is definitely over him, and this is how she'll prove it. But if she doesn't watch out, Blanche might end up not only screwing over a client--and possibly tanking her entire business--but breaking her rule about love as well . . . 

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I'd read the previous book by this author and like how she writes modern tales of love that I can, maybe a bit sadly, relate to. So when I had the chance to read this book, I was pretty excited.

A book about the modern dating scene and all its complexities, I did have to pick it up a few times before I got into it, but then as I felt myself relating to it more and more, I started to fall a bit in love with Blanche.

I've always imagined what it would be like to be a matchmaker and having done my own online dating in the past, therefore this story was the perfect juxtaposition of those two now not-so-secret desires. I can only imagine what it would end up being like, as no doubt one could end up surprised with who they may encounter and recognize during events like these.

Even though it would have been a perfect beach read, this is also a perfect comfy cozy couch read for a fun and often funny but also romantic tale!

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

Connect with Ricki Schultz:
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Until the Last Star Fades by Jacquelyn Middleton

5 Star

In her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness.

And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three-years-old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond. 

As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?

Kathryn - 5 Star

This novel has all the feels and all the plot and character development to back it up.  Perhaps Riley is at a different stage of life than I am?  But that didn't alter my empathy and connection with her in the slightest. She's a powerful woman with strength and charisma and I appreciated that.  The plot is paced over only a few months but it didn't feel rushed, I was drawn in completely.  

The most engaging part of the book for me was the relationships between the characters. The existing ones were so natural I felt as if I'd known them for years and the new ones (ie Ben) also moved forward organically, not only between Ben and Riley but the progress with her closest friends also fit.  That they weren't both entirely on board with Ben at first was ok and he does come with a lot of holes in his past that needed to be unraveled.  Riley's mum is one the best, (which is saying something because I'm quite sure my own mum is the best), her love flows all over the story and spills out of the pages. I suspect some real life mum feelings were poured into her character and the author should know the reader could feel it.  

There are lots of twists, turns and hurdles for those in Until The Last Star Fades, also some tears but quite a few laughs too. There is no way you will read this book without some feelings!  Am now also curious about the author’s previous novels as there is are characters that have cameos in this that I’d like to learn more about- more books for the to-read list!

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

Connect with Jacquelyn Middleton:
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Friday, November 2, 2018

Secret Passages in a Hillside Town by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen

4 Star

In a small hillside town, Olli Suominen - publisher and discontented husband - is constantly losing umbrellas. He has also joined a film club. And Greta, an old flame, has added him on Facebook.

As his life becomes more and more entangled with Greta's and his wife and son are dragged into the aftermath of this teenage romance, Olli is forced to make a choice. But does he really want to know what the secret passages are? Can he be sure that Greta is who she seems to be? And what actually happened on that summer's day long ago?

Kathryn - 4 Star

Translated from the original language I was taken on twisty journey through the life and mind of Olli. 

Olli is a father and husband, works in publishing, likes films and is always losing umbrellas.  This is what I gathered in the first few pages of this novel.  

It was quickly apparent though that I was going to be taken to places unknown and have only an ounce of an idea what was going on at any given moment.  Sure that I knew what was happening one minute quickly changed on the next page until I wasn't sure what was real and what was in the imaginations of this man.   I falsely hoped that the introduction of Greta would make some sense of things but she only served to twist the plot into new directions until I was lost.

The novel is funny, quirky and fascinating.  I actually thought a few times about putting it down but I just couldn't. 

If you're looking for something to make you question what you've read- this is it.  It was fantastically confusing and I'm still not sure I've slotted the plot into tidy boxes at the end.  Perhaps I shouldn't even try?

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

Connect with Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen: 
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Friday, October 26, 2018

Watch the Girls by Jennifer Wolfe

3 Star

Washed up teen star Liv Hendricks quit acting after her beloved younger sister inexplicably disappeared following a Hollywood party gone wrong. Liv barely escaped with her life, and her sister was never heard from again. But all this time, someone's been waiting patiently to finish what was started...

Now fifteen years later, broke and desperate, Liv is forced to return to the spotlight. She crowdfunds a webseries in which she'll pose as a real-life private detective--a nod to the show she starred on as a teen. When a mysterious donor challenges her to investigate a series of disappearances outside a town made famous by the horror movies filmed there, Liv has no choice but to accept.

Liv is given a cryptic first clue: Follow the white wolf. And now a darker game is about to begin. Through social media, someone is leaving breadcrumbs to follow. As Liv makes increasingly disturbing discoveries, her show explodes in popularity. A rapt internet audience is eager to watch it all--perhaps even at the cost of Liv's own life...

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

This book was super creepy. NO beating around the bush from me on this one. I certainly was not expecting the book to be quite like it was, and I can't say that I have ever read anything quite like it before.

Set in a small town in California, and full of "celebrities", this book was a mysterious thriller with many twists, but mostly at the end. I really was not expecting the end to be as it was and it sort of annoyed me that some of the questions were not answered but I guess that was definitely on purpose. I like stories to be wrapped up in the end, so it definitely affected my rating of this tale.

For a first time novel, it was well written. I just don't know where the author came up with the idea and to be honest, I found it very disturbing.  It must be difficult imagine such grotesque events as the ones that took place in this book.

Not for everyone, but it would appeal to fans of Cronenburg who I feel the director in the book was modeled after.

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

Connect with Jennifer Wolfe:

Friday, October 19, 2018

Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

5 Star

Emmy Jamieson loves her new life in the gentle hills and sunflowers of the lush French countryside, managing La Cour des Roses, a beautiful, white stone guesthouse. With marriage to caramel-eyed Alain just round the corner, things couldn’t be more perfect. 

The odd glass (gallon) of wine dulls the sound of Emmy’s mum in full motherzilla-of-the-bride mode, and the faint tinkling of alarm bells coming from Alain’s ex are definitely nothing to worry about. Guesthouse owner Rupert and a whole host of old and new friends are there to make sure nothing gets in the way of Emmy’s happiness. 

But as Emmy gets close to the big day, a secret from the past throws everything decidedly off track. Will her idyllic French wedding go ahead as planned, or will Emmy run back home to England with a broken heart?

Kathryn -5 Star

This is the final installment in the trilogy about Les Cours Des Roses and I am very distressed to be leaving these lovely people behind.  I have become very fond of Rupert, Emmy and the lovely guesthouse they run in France.

It was a good while between reading book two and this last one for me and it took me only a few pages to become immersed again in their lives.  Emmy is now approaching her wedding to the lovely French accountant and preparations are well under way (mostly by her mother). It seems though that the wedding takes over this book...much as weddings tend to do in real life also. They have the habit of becoming runaway trains of plans and details.  Emmy is having a hard time juggling her mother's demands and her own easy going attitude about the event.  Luckily for Emmy she has some super girlfriends to help her relax and they don't disappoint in their own stories either.

A suitable final installment for this series and what it lacked perhaps in the quirky guest department it more than made up for with the strong bonds of friendship that were cemented firmly in France.

All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles by Phillipa Ashley

4 Star

Poppy has always loved Cornwall – the crisp sea air, the welcoming community. So when her boyfriend Dan suggests they leave their office jobs and take over the Starfish Studio on the Isles of Scilly, Poppy doesn’t need asking twice.

But things don’t go to plan when Dan dumps her, weeks before they’re due to move. Determined not to give up, Poppy accepts the help of local photographer Jake, her landlord’s grandson. But Jake is distracted by a loss from his past.

Can they turn the crumbling gallery into a success in time for tourist season? And will a summer on the little Cornish Isles mend just the studio – or Poppy’s heart too?

Kathryn - 4 Star

This sweet novel made me desperate to explore this part of the UK and I may have even done a little research on how to make such a thing happen in the near future...maybe... 

Philippa Ashley can certainly make the small seaside town's atmosphere shine through. The quaint villages and the inhabitants made me want to be a part of a community that is mostly lost when you live in a large city. 

Particularly this book made me interested in the characters and their situations. I was connected quickly to their lives and wanted wonderful outcomes for them all.  I enjoyed the ins and outs of operating a small art gallery like this one and it almost had a personality of it's own... but not as much as the neighborhood cat!

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

Connect with Phillipa Ashley:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sold On A Monday by Kristina McMorris

3 Star


The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices. 

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value. 

Kathryn - 3 Star

I know this is likely to be an unpopular opinion but this was not my favourite Kristina McMorris book.  I read another review that said she'd been expecting one sort of novel and got something quite different and that's the way I felt also.

From the title, cover image and Ellis' taking of the photo I was expecting the plot to follow the lives of the children and perhaps to follow the thread of the period and the great poverty endured by so many during the Great Depression.  However, the novel followed Ellis through his career and the impact the photograph had on him.  Though fascinating, I was expecting something different and I didn't really warm to Ellis.  

I felt a little closer to Lillian and her situation. There was love apparent for her child and her parents that shone through.  Lillian and Ellis' relationship was so stilted that they never really meshed well for me and it didn't add much to the plot.  In the end I was satisfied with the wrap up between them as well as somewhat pleased with the outcome for the children.

I can't fault the writing and would not hesitate to read another book by the author as I've been engrossed by more than one of her other books.

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

Connect with Kristina McMorris:
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